miércoles, 31 de marzo de 2021

COVID-19 Vacunas: Es la política...? (II) Internacionalismo


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COVID-19 Vacunas: Es la política...? (I) Nacionalismo


Economic interdependence

Nationalism does not characterize the efforts to create and distribute a vaccine in their totality. Internationalist sentiment can also be found, such as in the early days of the coronavirus, when the EU donated protective equipment to China, and later on, when China did the same for Italy. These displays of international cooperation and solidarity can be taken as evidence for a more liberal or idealist conception of international relations: not only is cooperation possible between countries; in cases such as a global pandemic, it is arguably necessary. It is rare that a country can isolate itself from the effects of the pandemic taking place in the rest of the world, as Australia and New Zealand have done. Ultimately, the fact that there is a global movement of people and products means that a country that is especially suffering from the coronavirus cannot just be left to fend for itself. This can be seen in the Kent lorry crisis, this December, which occurred at the border of the UK and France upon the announcement of the emergence of a new strain of COVID. However, it is not only the virus that can seep into a country. Given that countries are not self-sufficient, economically, and in terms of national production, a necessary corollary of international trade is that if a trade partner’s economy and production are stunted from the effects of the pandemic, it is likely this will have an adverse impact on your country too. The RAND corporation has found that vaccine nationalism can actually harm rather than benefit the countries in question: high-income countries such as the UK and the US stand to lose $119 billion per annum if less affluent countries do not promptly receive a sufficient share of the vaccines. It would only cost $25 billion to do so, thus yielding an overwhelming net gain.

Developing Countries

Economic vulnerability

Lockdowns around the world are expected to result in “the worst economic downturn since the great depression”. 

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are offering billions in financial aid to countries struck by COVID, which, in less economically developed countries, can have the crucial effect of limiting the risk of civil conflict, which is observed to result from negative exogenous fiscal shocks. This is a problem that is not often included in western calculi of the impacts of the coronavirus. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres claims that these economic effects will spillover and undermine responses to the pandemic: “most African countries lack the financing to adequately respond to the crisis, due in part to declining demand and prices of their commodity exports.”

Vulnerability to the health crisis and “guinea pigs” for vaccine testing

The experience of the pandemic has been generally different in the Global South compared to the Global North which dominate news and discourses on COVID. Nepal has less than 500 intensive care unit beds in the entire country, despite a population 28-million-strong. This is a problem that threatened even developed countries like Italy. Brazil is one of the countries most affected by the virus, following only the US and India. This is suspected to be because they lacked both the infrastructure to institute a robust testing and tracing system, as well as sufficient PPE. Political infighting and institutional incompetence have resulted in Brazil lacking a comprehensive vaccination plan.

Furthermore, significant testing for vaccines takes place in developing countries, which has often invoked an ethical debate, including criticism of individuals in these countries being used as “human guinea pigs”, with the implication that their lives are dispensable. 

The larger part of Coronavac testing is taking place in Brazil, with the New York Times calling the country the “ideal vaccine laboratory”. 

These attitudes are residual from imperial narratives about the “family of civilised nations”, with those not meeting the “standard of civilisation” being barbaric; read: subhuman. These narratives can subconsciously spillover into real-life policies regarding global vaccine distribution, risking a status quo wherein wealthy states are able to hoard vaccines while countries in the Global South are left waiting and wanting. With a global pandemic, time translates directly into human lives: the passage of a single minute signifies another death in the US alone.

However, wealth and health have long been conflated. The endemic problem of diseases in developing countries remaining untreated despite the availability of treatment is omnipresent, even prior to the coronavirus. In 2015, 1.6 million people in African countries died of diseases such as HIV-related illnesses, malaria, and tuberculosis. Such deaths can be prevented through existing medicines, however, due to lack of funds, these countries lack the medicines to deal with health crises that developing countries have already overcome.


COVAX and the EU


The COVAX facility is the response of higher-income countries to this question; an effort to make the global distribution of vaccines more equitable. This sentiment is echoed by Guterres, who requested that the vaccine be treated as a “global public good” as opposed to “private commodities that widen inequalities,” per WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

is a strong example of international cooperation: it is spearheaded by international non-governmental organisations such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and the European Commission. 172 economies are now engaged in discussions to potentially participate in COVAX, with 80 of these being self-financing countries which will be providing support to the 92 countries eligible to be supported by this programme. The aim of COVAX is to “discourage national governments from hoarding COVID-19 vaccines and to focus on first vaccinating the most high-risk people in every country” by “lower[ing] vaccine costs for everyone”. Dr Ghebreyesus has cited COVAX as being a direct response to vaccine nationalism. Only time will tell how successful the execution of this project will be. Similarly, the EU is acting in its capacity as an international organization to centralise and coordinate vaccine distribution, ensuring that “All Member States will have access to COVID-19 vaccines at the same time on the basis of the size of their population”.

However, it is crucial that nations follow through on commitments to reduce vaccine inequality. The ACT-Accelerator Programme, developed by the WHO to quickly produce and fairly distribute vaccines, makes a desperate plea on its website: “Recent contributions bring the total committed to over 5.6 billion US$ – but an additional 3.7 billion US$ is needed urgently, with a further 23.9 billion US$ required in 2021.” The swine flu outbreak of 2009 is a prime example of vaccine nationalism gone awry, where developed countries hoarded large quantities of the vaccine in the early days, requiring the WHO to coordinate donations of 10% of the vaccine supplies of nine of these countries. However, even in this case, international cooperation was used to mitigate this issue.



Ultimately, however self-explanatory and simplistic such a claim may be, global cooperation is necessary when dealing with a global crisis. There is little room for nationalism, and little to be gained from a policy of “each man for himself”. 

The vaccine and the coronavirus, inextricably interlinked, have become channels through which national political interests can be realised, a new, shiny tool in the arsenal and war-chests of governments to wield power and gain political capital. There is something morally disquieting in extracting political gain from a tragedy that has robbed people of their lives, their jobs, and their livelihoods. However, it would not be the first time that death on a large scale has been politicised. An obvious analogy to this is war, yet it is also a non-comparative one; war is inherently political and nationalist, constituted of territorial disputes and invasions of countries’ borders and sovereignty. It is clear that this politicisation has negative consequences, as countries forgo correct procedures in a juvenile strife to be first, and keep vaccines to themselves, seemingly forgetting the principle of sharing. It is likely that cutting through (sometimes necessary) red tape would have occurred in any case, as doctors, biotech companies, and governments alike are doing everything in their respective powers to fasten the proverbial tourniquet and finally cease this incessant haemorrhaging. Hopefully, international cooperation will come to fruition, and the coronavirus can be tackled in one, concentrated, effective effort, as opposed to differentially, with LEDCs lagging significantly behind wealthy countries in terms of access to life-saving vaccines.(Ver)

sábado, 27 de marzo de 2021

AstraZéneca: Muere José Baselga, Jefe de R&D oncología


José Baselga, renowned cancer researcher and AstraZeneca oncology R&D head, dies at 61

José Baselga, a storied oncology researcher and pharmaceutical executive whose discoveries helped pave the way for new breast cancer therapies, died Sunday at the age of 61.

His death was confirmed by AstraZeneca, where Baselga had been serving as executive vice president for research and development in oncology. The company did not provide a cause of death; the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported it was Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare brain infection that causes degeneration and death.

Baselga had joined AstraZeneca two years ago, after his academic career ended amid a conflict-of-interest scandal at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “An outstanding scientific leader, José leaves a lasting legacy in the scientific community and here at AstraZeneca,” company CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement. Soriot added of Baselga, “His visionary leadership, deep scientific expertise and strategic insight have delivered so many achievements that we can all be proud of and that will benefit patients’ lives in the years to come.”

Anas Younes, who worked with Baselga in academia and at AstraZeneca and had known him since 1986, told STAT that Baselga was “ambitious, resilient, caring, brilliant — and joyful.”

People don’t understand that — he was a really funny person to be around,” Younes said.

Baselga had both an M.D. and Ph.D., and his academic career included stops at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in his native Spain, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Memorial Sloan Kettering, where he was ultimately chief medical officer and physician-in-chief.

During his career, Baselga was involved in the clinical development of multiple cancer therapies, including trastuzumab (also known as Herceptin), according to a biography from the American Association for Cancer Research. 

His scientific pursuits focused on finding therapeutic agents based on genetic mutations and molecular targets on tumors, and on investigating how cancers became resistant to treatment.

Baselga was best known as a breast cancer researcher, but in his leadership at MSKCC, he shaped scientific strategies across disease types, Younes said.

During his academic career, Baselga collaborated with and served as an adviser to startups as well as major pharmaceutical companies, which is common for investigators working on taking potential treatments from research labs into patients.

But in 2018, ProPublica and the New York Times reported that Baselga had failed to disclose receiving millions of dollars from drug and other health care companies in research articles he published in academic journals. Baselga told the news organizations the omissions had been unintentional.



Baselga resigned from MSKCC soon after, and in January 2019, joined AstraZeneca as the drug maker shifted more of its focus to cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Silvia, and four children.

José was more than a colleague to me,” Soriot’s statement said. “He was a friend, and someone I immensely respected and cherished. I will enormously miss having him alongside me, and I will continue to be inspired by his work and vision.” (Ver)

viernes, 26 de marzo de 2021

Cinema Paradiso: Infeccion / Flavio Pedota

 “Infección” , ópera prima de Flavio Pedota , película venezolana coproducción con México, protagonizada por Rubén Guevara, Leónidas Urbina, Magdiel González, Genna Chanelle Hayes, Luca De Lima, Francis Rueda, Anibal Grunn, Joel Rivero, Ronnie Nordenflycht, Joahanna Juliette , tuvo su premier mundial en el Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara 2019 y que continua su ronda por festivales internacionales.

En Caracas, un ruso bajo los efectos de la droga Krokodil, se contagia con el virus de la rabia y desata una epidemia de seres agresivos y caníbales. En medio de todo, está el doctor Adam Vargas que emprende un hostil viaje dentro de una Venezuela destruida para salvar a su hijo del contagio

Anteriormente estuvo seleccionada en Blood Window (Ventana Sur y Cannes) así como en Guadalajara Construye y Guadalajara Goes To Cannes en el Marche Du Film

Además de ser una película de género, Infección es una metáfora sobre la situación política actual que se vive en Venezuela ya que los zombis siempre han sido un pretexto idóneo para la protesta social.


jueves, 25 de marzo de 2021

COVID-19 Vacunas: Es la política...? (I) Nacionalismo


Vaccine Politics: global inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Fonie Mitsopoulou -24.2.2021 

Nothing can be of national or international importance without being imbued with the edge of politics. An event as impactful as the pandemic, which has afflicted an estimated 81.5 million, and led to 1.78 million deaths to date, was always going to be politicized; leveraged for gain, superiority, and influence over other countries. The war against the virus comes hand-in-hand with an international propaganda war.

In the case of the pandemic, wealthy and powerful countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia and China are able to use the virus for political gain. Vaccine nationalism is employed to gain influence and wield power among their national populations, as well as against other countries, while vaccine diplomacy is used to mend coronavirus-induced tensions and to curry favour among potential allies.

Less developed countries face a different set of problems, wherein their vulnerability to economic downturns caused by lockdowns around the world, and their lack of an infrastructure to deal with such a health crisis were already threats to their populations. This is exacerbated through phenomena such as vaccine hoarding, wherein only the wealthiest of countries reserve the bulk of the life-saving vaccines being produced. Internationalist movements such as COVAX are attempts at reducing global inequalities in terms of access to these vaccines. Hence, nationalist and internationalist approaches to the pandemic coexist in a world where a deadly threat provides new opportunities for actions to be taken on the political stage.





A resurgence in nationalism can be seen recently in trends in Europe, the US, and other countries worldwide, notably rising in association with and concurrent to right-wing parties and leaders. Nationalism is the sentiment of one’s country being superior to others, with their interests deserving to come before those of others. From Germany’s AfD, to Spain’s VOX, to America’s President Trump’s “America First” mantra, perhaps the rise in political nationalism primed the world for vaccine nationalism.

The two main culprits of nationalist behaviour are the US and the UK. These are two of the countries most affected by COVID-19, but counterintuitively so. They are relatively sufficiently developed, wealthy, and have the organisational capacity to have confronted the pandemic in a way which would have mitigated its subsequent overwhelming spread. Yet, even the leaders- the global representatives- of both of these countries fell to the coronavirus, in a stroke of irony that was not lost on anyone. The UK and the US still made sure to manipulate the events of the pandemic for political gain.

The most glaring case of “vaccine nationalism” is exemplified in the race for the vaccine, as countries raced to be the first on the moon five decades back, and as they scrambled to snatch up regions in Africa at the turn of the century. It is not a novel phenomenon; he who gets there first is able to laud it over the others. It is a source of national pride. Being the first, the biggest, the best, has always been the aim of governments in competition both domestically, with other parties, and internationally, with other states. This has often manifested itself through proxy competitions, seemingly unrelated to a state’s political strength. Nationalist competition can even be found in sports, as, during times of heightened political tensions, countries vie for first place. This was the case in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, with national athletes acting as vehicles for their governments as countries tried to prove national supremacy in the lead-up to a World War.

Furthermore, vaccine nationalism is not just reflected in attempts to produce or approve a vaccine first, but more importantly, it is fundamentally about which country is able to provide for its citizens by securing sufficient doses of the vaccine so as to halt the rising death toll. According to the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, higher income countries had collectively reserved nearly 5 billion vaccine doses by the 8th of December through bilateral “advance market commitments”. The US has entered into six of these deals, thus securing more than 1 billion doses, a surplus of vaccines to ensure that if any of the trials fail, the other trials can offer them some security. However, the problem this poses is that vaccine production cannot keep up with global demand, therefore, for some years, many less-wealthy countries will be bereft of vaccines while the coronavirus continues to spread. From a scientific perspective, the global dissemination of COVID will be tackled most effectively if vaccines are distributed equitably, so that all countries can inoculate populations so as to achieve some degree of herd immunity while vaccines continue to be produced. A nationalist stance, therefore, will only prove to be deleterious in time.


Expressions of vaccine nationalism

With two American companies (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) and an English one (AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the University of Oxford) in the lead, this particular race has always been intolerably tight. Even though Pfizer was able to get approved by the UK, the EU, and the US, in a similar timeframe, the UK could still take pride in being the first to sign a deal with them and be the first to distribute the vaccine, thus “lead[ing] humanity’s charge against this disease”, as a tweet from Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, read. This does not go to say that the English agreed with this sentiment, as the top commenters retorted with “Lose the jingoism – it’s not even a UK vaccine” and “alternatively they’ll remember the UK having one of the worst death rates and the worst economic impact due to poor governance”. The UK was also the first country to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on the 30th of December 2020, coinciding with a period which has seen daily COVID cases in the UK at an all-time high: on December 29th, there were 53,135 new cases.

Therefore, vaccine-related nationalist narratives were a tool used by the UK government to salvage some public support and credibility. The methods with which this occurred was through public statements: Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Tory MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries all made the claim (on either Times Radio or Question Time) that the rapidity with which the vaccine was approved was a result of no longer being constrained by the European Medicines Agency. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has publicly stated “I just think we have the very best people in this country and we’ve got the best medical regulators. Much better than the French have, much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have. That doesn’t surprise me at all, as we’re a much better country than every single one of them, aren’t we?”. The Tory government have engaged in discussions about branding vaccine kits with the Union Jack–a potent national visual symbol that makes it very obvious who the British citizens should thank. In line with such symbolism, the UK called it’s immunisation programme “V-Day”, alluding to the language used for their victory in the Second World War, thus further inciting patriotic fervour around the topic of the vaccine.

Political incentives

The current Conservative government stands to gain from setting up the quick approval of a vaccine as a metric for a successful state. This is a strategy that can be described as setting milestones at accessible points, and celebrating when they have been achieved. This is to detract from the recent highly-publicised political losses the UK government has seen, both on the domestic and international fronts. On its local stomping-ground, the Conservative party has been accused of having failed to tackle the coronavirus crisis with any semblance of competence, with charges ranging from spending extortionate amounts (£12 billion) on a sub-par Track and Trace system which yielded few returns, to discriminatory lockdown regulations being placed on northern cities such as Manchester, compared to London, with only a fraction of the financial support. The government has further come under fire for failing to address child food poverty, limiting free school meals over vacations and obligating UNICEF to provide aid for these English children for the first time, undermining the UK’s credentials as a leading developed global power. The UK appears to onlookers as though it has been overwhelmed by a global health crisis disproportionately to other- potentially less wealthy and well-equipped- countries.

Internationally, the UK was seen to be hurtling towards the 31st of December–the date of the final deadline for a Brexit deal with the EU–without a deal in sight. In the worst-case-scenario of a no-deal-Brexit, there were fears of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines being held up due to disruptions in the movement of goods between Belgium and the UK, which would be an issue given that these vaccines must be refrigerated at -70C. While the Conservative government, under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was able to negotiate a deal at the eleventh hour, issues with trade and borders made the government appear as though they are frantically trying to make momentous, wide-reaching decisions with little time and little bargaining power.

Most significantly, in the UK, the vaccine has become yet another battleground for Brexit: a vessel for the anti- or pro-European sentiments held by nationals. Depending on who you ask, British rapid vaccine rollout is either a national triumph, resulting from Britain removing themselves from the shackles of tedious European Union bureaucracy and legislation, or, alternatively, it was only made possible through international collaboration (BioNTech is a German company, and the drug will be produced in Belgium, the home of the EU headquarters).


Attempts to import politics into the vaccine may have adverse impacts. Firstly, according to Stephen Reicher, a social psychologist at the University of St Andrews, the stance of those who are hesitant or against the vaccine is informed by mistrust of politicians, who are accused of lying about the vaccine for political or monetary gain, and such propaganda only confirms these suspicions. Furthermore, in the eyes of those who give more credence to science, these government spokespeople are exposed as either being scientifically illiterate-having very poor knowledge of how the vaccine-rollout process occurred- or being prepared to lie about it for political gain, which does not inspire particular faith in them. This can have both negative effects on attempts to finally end the pandemic, as well be counterproductive for the government, politically.


Vaccine hesitancy

President Trump’s methods to use the vaccine for political advantage are exemplified in his attempt, in the early days of the pandemic, to ensure that the CureVac vaccine would be “only for the USA”, in exchange for $1 billion. In an act akin to this one, the US was accused in April of diverting mask shipments meant for Germany for itself, in a scramble for scarce PPE in the midst of “mask wars”.

It is important, however, to place such actions within the context of American vaccine scepticism. All efforts to secure vaccines for the entire population are futile if the internal political implications behind the vaccine are not dispelled. This debate is wrought on a grassroots level. Within the wider conversation about whether the government and these big pharma companies are to be trusted- which has been waged on adjacent battlefields, such as that of mandatory mask-wearing and on the oppressiveness of the lockdown restrictions- the vaccine has not gotten through without intensive scrutiny. With a massive anti-vax movement having already taken root in the US, the coronavirus vaccines are treated with suspicion, especially given that vaccines are known to take up to a decade to produce. Operation Warp Speed, the name given to the US efforts to funnel billions into vaccine research and cut through red tape during this time of urgency, significantly expedited this process, thus inciting unease among sceptics. Only 60% of Americans have indicated they plan on being vaccinated, while 21% are reluctant to do so under any circumstances. Cynics wondered whether the October target for the completion of the vaccine would be rushing it unduly (and potentially dangerously) for the sake of having it out before the elections in November.

The link between the vaccine and politics is bidirectional; not only does the existence and supply of vaccines inform whether or not a government is perceived as effective or successful, but the inverse also holds true. When high-profile public figures and politicians put their weight behind the vaccine, this inspires faith in it among a dubious public. When individuals such as president-elect Joe Biden receive the vaccine on public television, this contributes towards the reduction of vaccine hesitancy. That being said, someone who is deeply convinced by the conspiracy theories is unlikely to be swayed by such a display; radical groups are always equipped with some response to rebut any information that runs counter to their beliefs.


In August, the Russian government claimed to have created a successful vaccine, which, in a propagandist nod to the aforementioned space race, is called “Sputnik V’. On its website, it claims to be “the first registered vaccine against COVID-19”, establishing itself as the winner of this implicit competition. This did not go without significant resistance, however, as the US, the UK, and Canada accused Russia of sending hackers to steal vaccine information from their drug companies and research groups. Russia responded by calling this a smear campaign, attempting to undermine what could “potentially be the most effective vaccine out there”.

It must be noted that President Putin had a political incentive to make this announcement prematurely, and to have produced a vaccine first even if – by scientific standards – it was not ready (skipping Phase-3 trials, it had only been tested on 100 people). Currently, his trust ratings are experiencing one of their deepest troughs, and he just passed the constitutional amendment to presidential terms which would allow him to stay in power indefinitely. If he is to be around for a while, he has to be well-liked. It is a regime-preserving strategy, akin to those employed by other non-democratic governments. Furthermore, in an exigent parallel to the Cold War, this can be perceived as a move for Russia to stake itself as an alternative pole of power, to carve out its own sphere of influence in a competition that so far has been dominated by Western countries. The fact that the vaccine was only to be released on a limited-scale (for healthcare workers and at-risk populations) seems only to indicate that it was done for political gain, and not because the vaccine was actually safe and ready for distribution.


COVID-inspired anti-Chinese racism

The final key player is China. The source of what is dubbed by people like President Trump the “China virus”, or “Wuhan virus”, many are thus made fully aware of who to blame for the pandemic and this wanton loss of life. The tale of the virus having originated from “bat soup” provides the context for which people can attribute tragedy to foreign customs. The virus acts as a guise, which enables racist behaviour. Asian Americans are subjected to virulent hostilities. Justin Tsui was told to “go back to [his] country”, Abraham Choi was spat on, called a “Chinese f-ck”, and that “all of you should die, and all of you have the Chinese virus.” Jay Koo was threatened with murder by strangers on the street, which he closely escaped by coughing and pretending to have the virus. In America, those of Chinese descent have historically been accused of bringing disease, with landmark legal cases like that of Jew Ho v. Williamson revealing how pandemia and racism go hand in hand. This is an age where political tensions between the US and China are at an all-time high, as signified by the breakdown of diplomatic relations in July with the US ordering China to close its consulate in Texas, and China doing the same with the US consulate in Chengdu. In this modern Cold War, both countries paint the other as the evil counterpart to their force of good, as they vie for global influence through diplomacy, military force and mercantilism, the coronavirus is just another means through which this animosity can be manifested.

Vaccine diplomacy

China is determined to utilize vaccine diplomacy to rectify the negative image the coronavirus has tainted them with. Their leading vaccine (among nine candidates), aptly named Coronavac, is borne from biotech giant Sinovac. China intends to utilise this as a tool with which to endear themselves to other countries: Brazil, which was the country third-worst affected by the virus, has been promised 6 million doses of the vaccine by January.

Terms native to the field of international relations can be imported into discourses around vaccine politics, which have presented themselves as a new channel through which to exercise power. Along with “vaccine nationalism” and “vaccine diplomacy”, one also encounters accounts of China attempting to become a “vaccine superpower” by providing vaccines for masses of people. In May, President Xi Jinping promised to share the vaccine with the world, setting China up to be favourably compared to the US, where President Trump was preoccupied with buying up a large bulk of production of new vaccines in a nationalist, protectionist move which only antagonised other countries. Another example of vaccine diplomacy can be seen in China’s proposal to prioritise distribution of their vaccine to Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, Russia and the Philippines, in a clear attempt to take advantage of the health crisis to forge or strengthen alliances. 


miércoles, 24 de marzo de 2021

AZ: "outdated information"...siembra dudas en NIAID sobre vacuna COVID-19


A recent study showing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was highly effective may have used "outdated information" US federal health officials have now alleged.

Hours after the UK-Swedish drug giant reported its Covid-19 vaccine provided strong protection among adults, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said it was worried the trial results have given only a partial picture.


NIAID Statement on AstraZeneca Vaccine

The statement immediately threatened to overshadow results that had been viewed as good news for the company after public doubts over its vaccine, and mire the firm in fresh controversy.

The NIAID said its safety and monitoring board “was concerned by information released by AstraZeneca on initial data from its Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial”.

The board “expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data”.

We urge the company to work with [the board] to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible."

"This is likely a very good vaccine," Anthony Fauci, the US president's medical adviser and NIAID director, told ABC News' "Good Morning America" programme on Tuesday morning. "If you look at it, the data really are quite good but when they put it into the press release it wasn't completely accurate."

NIAD on Tuesday said: "The numbers published yesterday were based on a pre-specified interim analysis with a data cut-off of 17 February.

"We have reviewed the preliminary assessment of the primary analysis and the results were consistent with the interim analysis. We are now completing the validation of the statistical analysis."

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been heralded as a vital part of efforts to beat the coronavirus pandemic, with a low cost and ease of storage that should make it the global workhorse of jabs.

The World Health Organisation, UK health authorities and the European Medicines Agency have all voiced support for it.

But public confidence in America and Europe was dented by early questions over trial data and then by reports of unusual blood clots among those who had taken it.

Monday's results from a study of 30,000 people showing that the vaccine was 79 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic cases, including in older adults had been hoped to start rebuilding confidence in the shot.

Researchers found there were no severe illnesses or hospitalisations among vaccinated volunteers, compared with five such cases in participants who received dummy shots.

AstraZeneca's shot is still not authorised for use in America and the company has had tensions with US regulators.

Reports emerged late last year that US officials had become angered at the firm's failure to tell them it had paused trials after a volunteer fell ill.

The incident, along with other alleged communication blunders, damaged the UK company's standing with US regulators and appeared to slow the vaccine's development, according to the New York Times.


Ultima hora: 

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Data Might Have Included Outdated Information, US Agency Says

domingo, 21 de marzo de 2021

Citario/El dijo que...Fernando de Pessoa


  Me siento tan aislado que puedo palpar la distancia entre mí y mi presencia

 Fernando de Pessoa / El libro del desasosiego #83

sábado, 20 de marzo de 2021

España: Información sobre fármacos en prensa antes de COVI19 /Gonzalo Casino*


Las noticias sobre fármacos son importantes para los profesionales de la salud, las empresas y el público general. Sin embargo, faltan estudios que analicen los artículos periodísticos sobre fármacos. 

Este trabajo utiliza el análisis de contenido para examinar los artículos sobre fármacos en 17 periódicos españoles (13 generalistas, dos económicos y dos profesionales) desde 2008 hasta 2017. 

En promedio, tanto los periódicos generalistas como los económicos publicaron tres artículos sobre fármacos cada semana, mientras que los profesionales 14 cada semana. 


En conjunto, el número de artículos sobre fármacos disminuyó un 10%. 

Los temas relacionados con fármacos más cubiertos en 2017 fueron el cáncer y los genéricos; el menos cubierto fue la investigación preclínica. Se publicaron cuatro veces más artículos sobre investigación clínica que sobre investigación preclínica. 

La prensa económica publicó más sobre investigación clínica y preclínica que otros tipos de prensa.

"One of the main contributions of the present study is that it provides numerical estimates based on diverse publications to contextualize the information about drugs that is published in general, business, and professional newspapers in Spain. However, some limitations of this study must be mentioned. Although the study analyzed 17 newspapers and a science news agency with large circulations, these publications are not necessarily representative of the Spanish press, nor do they represent the entire media universe. Furthermore, only the printed editions of some news-papers were analyzed (SINC and eldiario.es have only a digital edition and other newspapers have the same content in their print and digital editions). However, the findings in the data from the digital newspaper analyzed were similar." (Ver)


(*) Gonzalo Casino: Escepticemia

viernes, 19 de marzo de 2021

Cinema Paradiso: Dr. Joseph / Marcia Weekes

A Jamaican doctor trained in Western medicine and in conflict with his family (all of whom are doctors) about his belief in the benefits of bush medicine, travels to Ghana to prove them wrong.

Joseph will bring viewers a deeper understanding of how the search for truth can be healing, especially during times of social and political unrest,” said BK Fulton, founding chairman and CEO, Soulidifly Productions.

“This film aligns with 2019’s ‘Year of Return’ and the ‘Decade of Return’ currently being expressed by African leaders and global influencers as more people search for answers in the present by looking to clues from the past.”

Winner of the 2020 “Best Diaspora Narrative Feature” award at the Africa Movie Academy Awards, Joseph was shot on location in Ghana, Jamaica and Barbados and produced by Step by Step Productions with assistance from Soulidifly Productions.

Joseph is a dramatic feature film about Joseph King, a young Jamaican doctor with a burning desire to re-connect to his family’s roots with the Ashanti tribe in Ghana.

The quest to “go home” creates family conflict. Joseph’s curiosity about Africa is fueled even more by a friend from medical school, who would boast about his homeland Ghana.

His stories contradict with what Joseph hears and sees about Africa in the media. A serious tragedy, a chance meeting and an unfulfilled promise drive Joseph towards an uncertain destiny.


miércoles, 17 de marzo de 2021

Que des_Astræ...! las vacunas (AZ)...COVID19

Los países cancelan en cascada la vacunación con dosis de AstraZeneca: esta es la radiografía europea de 'vetos'


As a precaution, the Netherlands decided to suspend the use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca for two weeks. Up to March 28, no one will be given this vaccine, the Ministry of Public Health said on Sunday night. Tens of thousands of vaccination appointments were canceled. This does not affect scheduled shots with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

The suspension follows reports from several countries of people getting thrombosis after getting an AstraZeneca shot. These involve serious, rare signs of blood clot formation and a reduced number of blood platelets in adults under the age of 50 years. Six new reports of these possible side effects were received from Denmark and Norway, the Ministry said on Sunday.

On Thursday, the Dutch medicines authority CBG and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge both said it was very unlikely that the AstraZeneca vaccine caused these symptoms. But after the new reports, CBG advised the Ministry to rather be safe and suspend the use of the vaccine pending investigation. De Jonge said that there must be "no doubts" about the vaccines.

"The crucial question is whether it concerns complaints after vaccination or due to vaccination. I think it is very important that the reports are properly investigated. We must always err on the side of caution, which is why it is wise to press the pause button now as a precaution. I rely entirely on our experts," the departing Health Minister said in a statement. On Monday morning he stressed that the vaccines are safe and this pause is just a precaution.

Netherlands residents who were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine are advised to contact their doctor immediately if they develop blue spots on their skin three days after the injection, or if they develop unexpected or unknown symptoms. The CBG stressed that the chance of this is extremely small and people with no strange complaints do not need to be worried.

People who had an appointment for an AstraZeneca shot in the coming two weeks, will get a text message to notify them that their appointment has been cancelled for the time being. A spokesperson for GGD GHOR Nederland, the umbrella organization for the GGD municipal health services, told NOS that around 43 thousand appointments will be canceled - 29 thousand for this week, and 14 thousand for next week. The government's Coronavirus Dashboard shows that 290 thousand AstraZeneca vaccinations were planned for the next two weeks.

This vaccine is used to vaccinate care workers in long-term care, for people aged 60 to 64, people with Down's syndrome, people with morbid obesity, and some patients in mental health care.

Earlier on Sunday, AstraZeneca announced that there was no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots in people who received the vaccine. The pharmaceutical company examined the data of over 17 million people who received their vaccine in the European Union and United Kingdom. The European Medicines Agency also previously said that it had no evidence of a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and cases of thrombosis.Ver

Con esta decisión, Alemania se suma a Dinamarca y Noruega cuyas autoridades anunciado el jueves pasado que suspendían temporalmente el uso de las inyecciones de la vacuna contra la covid-19 de AstraZeneca después de informes sobre la formación de trombos en algunos de los vacunados.

La medida llegó después de que Austria dejara de usar un lote de inyecciones de AstraZeneca mientras investigaba una muerte por trastornos de la coagulación y una enfermedad por una embolia pulmonar.


martes, 16 de marzo de 2021

Creatividad: El cáncer no espera / FUCA (Argentina)


La Fundación Cáncer - FUCA, presidida por el Dr. Reinaldo Chacón, ha sido creada en 1983 con la misión de reducir la mortalidad por cáncer a través de la educación médica y comunitaria, la investigación científica y la concientización para la prevención y el cuidado de la salud.

Fundación FUCA, la Asociación Argentina de Oncología Clínica (AAOC) y AMGEN -compañía líder en biotecnología- lanzaron la campaña El cáncer no espera para concientizar sobre la importancia de la realización de los controles de rutina, claves para la detección precoz de la enfermedad.



domingo, 14 de marzo de 2021

Dr. House y Viopril story /Etica


Edward Vogler was a billionaire owner of a pharmaceutical company who donated a large sum of money to Princeton-Plainsboro. He became the new Chairman of The Board. He disliked House and went to great efforts to get him fired. His dad had given him $20,000 for college, which he would have realized was a mistake had he known that Vogler was not actually in college. Vogler accepted the money and he invested it in a friend who owned a small business. The business made a lot of money making Vogler a multi-millionaire. He called his dad who was upset with him for not telling him that he was not in college; the two did not speak for a while. He next decided to invest the money in more businesses, all of which were incredibly successful. Vogler went public and became a billionaire overnight. He went to see his dad, where Vogler told him about all the money he had made with the money that he had received from him, but his father said nothing. It turned out that he didn't recognize Vogler because his Alzheimer's had taken a turn for the worst.

So Vogler decided to donate $100 million to PPTH, ostensibly to help cure diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and cancer. However, his condition was to become chairman of the board of directors in order to control what his money was spent on. He took an immediate dislike to House, at first for his consistent failure to wear a lab coat, but then after he noted that House brought in very little income for the money he spent.

Robert Chase agreed to spy on House for Vogler, essentially in a bid to save his own job. Vogler then demanded that House fire one of his fellows to save money. Cameron came up with the idea of having everyone take a pay cut, but although House offered Vogler the option, Vogler turned it down - what he really wanted was to let House know that he was no longer calling the shots on his team. Without knowing of Chase's betrayal, House finally chose to fire Chase, but Vogler told him at that point he had to fire either Cameron or Foreman as, although Vogler had tried to get both Cameron and Foreman to replace Chase as his snitch, they had both refused.


Tres capítulos atrás Vogler, dueño de una empresa farmacéutica, había asumido como nuevo presidente del Hospital Escuela Princeton-Plainsboro con la filosofía de gestionarlo como si fuera un negocio y de inmediato chocó frontalmente con el Dr. House.

En el capítulo siguiente Vogler le ordenó a House despedir a uno de los tres médicos de su equipo. En este capítulo Vogler le ofrece dejar sin efecto la orden de despedir a uno de los médicos si pronuncia un discurso elogiando un nuevo medicamento de su empresa. House no desea apoyar el nuevo medicamento porque se trata de un método repudiable de las empresas farmacéuticas de agregar un nuevo componente secundario para poder mantener la patente y aumentar los precios, sin ninguna razón médica.


However, Vogler gave House one more chance - if House would agree to give a talk saying how wonderful one of Vogler's new drugs was, he would agree to keep everyone on.


House agreed, to the astonishment of his team and the relief of Wilson and Cuddy. 

However, House soon realized that Vogler's new drug, called Viopril (fictive), was merely an expensive alternative to a cheap medication to which Vogler had added nothing more than an antacid. Instead of giving Vogler's impressive speech, House explained to the astonished audience and a stunned Vogler that they should continue to use the old cheap drug, because it was just as good. As a result, Cameron agreed to leave the team. In addition, House figured out that Chase was the snitch and, since he couldn't fire him, had to live with the fact.(Más)


Dr. House T1-17 Role Model

Vogler: [as House is leaving] Oh, and by the way, I need you to give a speech at the National Cardiology Conference. Next week.

House: I don’t do speeches. I’m shy.

Vogler: Eastbrook Pharmaceuticals has developed a new ACE inhibitor. I would like you to extol the virtues of this breakthrough medication.

House: Eastbrook Pharmaceuticals… wait a second, don’t I own that company? Oh, no, that’s right, you do.

Vogler: Viopril is a significant improvement over the old version. All there in the study. [He hands House a booklet of information.]

House: I know its price tag is significantly improved.

House MD - 1.17 Role Model