Herewith three items of Covid-19 news you may have missed this week: an expert’s reflections on vaccines and bioethics, kidney damage in Covid-19, and a look at worldwide trends in confidence in vaccines. Plus a frippery.
The bioethics of vaccine development
It shouldn’t be necessary for vaccine developers to have to say this [that they will not seek government authorization until they have sufficient safety and effectiveness data]. But in this extraordinary time, they did, and many people were excited that they did. It’s deeply unfortunate to have such a low bar.
AstraZeneca did what it should have done and paused the trial to allow for a thorough investigation… We shouldn’t have to be grateful for simple, ethical acts like that. But welcome to the time of coronavirus in America.
A devastating complication — acute kidney injury or AKI — occurs in a concerning fraction of severe Covid-19 cases. Of almost 4,000 patients with severe Covid-19 in one New York hospital system in February – May of this year, 46% developed AKI. Of those, 19% required dialysis. Half of the AKI patients died in the hospital, and of the ones who did not, only 30% had regained complete kidney function by the time of discharge. Males were more likely to develop AKI, as were those with hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease.
Vaccine confidence around the world
The Lancet published a study looking at attitudes towards vaccines and vaccination, worldwide, from 2015 to 2019. The U of MN’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy has a readable summary. The study’s authors found a degradation of trust in vaccines in a handful of countries, especially those experiencing political instability and/or with entrenched religious extremism: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and others. Some countries not fitting the above description but harboring a strong anti-vax movement, such as South Korea and Poland, also showed declines in confidence. (The US is not a particular focus in this work.) The study looked at three components of confidence in vaccines: belief in their importance, efficacy, and safety. It concluded that programs bolstering belief in the importance of vaccination are most effective in moving the needle on public health.
Frippery: Music from 2,000 marbles
Here’s your reward for getting through the above heavy sledding: A Swedish band called Wintergatan spent two years building a machine to make music. The result is like Rube Goldberg got rhythm. It’s magical.