From The New York Times

Trump Scorns His Own Scientists Over Virus Data

September 17, 2020

President Trump on Wednesday rejected the professional scientific conclusions of his own government about the prospects for a widely available coronavirus vaccine and the effectiveness of masks in curbing the spread of the virus as the death toll in the United States from the disease neared 200,000.

In a remarkable display even for him, Mr. Trump publicly slapped down Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the president promised that a vaccine could be available in weeks and go “immediately” to the general public while diminishing the usefulness of masks despite evidence to the contrary.

President Trump on Wednesday rejected the professional scientific conclusions of his own government about the prospects for a widely available coronavirus vaccine and the effectiveness of masks in curbing the spread of the virus as the death toll in the United States from the disease neared 200,000.

In a remarkable display even for him, Mr. Trump publicly slapped down Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the president promised that a vaccine could be available in weeks and go “immediately” to the general public while diminishing the usefulness of masks despite evidence to the contrary.

The president’s comments put him at odds with the C.D.C., the world’s premier public health agency, over the course of a pandemic that he keeps insisting is “rounding the corner” to an end. Mr. Trump lashed out just hours after Dr. Redfield told a Senate committee that a vaccine would not be widely available until the middle of next year and that masks were so vital in fighting the disease caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, that they may even more important than a vaccine….

Read the full The New York Times article

Safety Review Begins of AstraZeneca’s Vaccine Trial

September 10, 2020

Scientists on Wednesday praised the decision by AstraZeneca to suspend its late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials and begin a safety review after learning that a participant had developed a serious neurological condition. Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, testifying at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, said the step “ought to be reassuring.”

The results of the safety review, to be conducted by an independent board of experts, will help determine if the participant’s condition was a reaction to the vaccine candidate or merely coincidental, and are expected to heavily influence whether and when trials might resume.

Scientists on Wednesday praised the decision by AstraZeneca to suspend its late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials and begin a safety review after learning that a participant had developed a serious neurological condition. Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, testifying at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, said the step “ought to be reassuring.”

The results of the safety review, to be conducted by an independent board of experts, will help determine if the participant’s condition was a reaction to the vaccine candidate or merely coincidental, and are expected to heavily influence whether and when trials might resume.

But many details about the trial’s suspension and the event that triggered it remain murky. Researchers do not yet know what caused the volunteer’s symptoms, how long the evaluation process will take or what the consequences might be….

Read the full The New York Times article

Health Experts Warn About Perils of New Virus Data Collection System

August 12, 2020

Nearly three dozen current and former members of a federal health advisory committee, including nine appointed or reappointed by the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, are warning that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”

The advisers, all current or former members of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, issued their warning in a previously unpublished letter shared with The New York Times.

Nearly three dozen current and former members of a federal health advisory committee, including nine appointed or reappointed by the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, are warning that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”

The advisers, all current or former members of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, issued their warning in a previously unpublished letter shared with The New York Times.

The letter was made public as both hospital officials and independent data experts around the country were reporting kinks in the new system, which critics say is undermining the government’s ability to understand the course of the pandemic. The Covid Tracking Project, a respected and widely used resource, identified “major problems” with the new Department of Health and Human Services system in late July, and reported this week that “the federal data continue to be unreliable….”

Read the full The New York Times article

How Ballot Initiatives Changed the Game on Medicaid Expansion

August 4, 2020

It was the middle of 2016, and Obamacare supporters were stuck.

Nineteen states were refusing to participate in the health law’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to low-income Americans. States run by Democrats eagerly signed up for the program, lured in part by generous federal funding.

It was the middle of 2016, and Obamacare supporters were stuck.

Nineteen states were refusing to participate in the health law’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to low-income Americans. States run by Democrats eagerly signed up for the program, lured in part by generous federal funding.

Most Republican governors and legislatures had little interest in expanding the reach of the Affordable Care Act, and declined the money.

“People were frustrated,” said Chris Jennings, a longtime health care strategist who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations. “We were left with either doing nothing or finding a new solution. And then these guys came up with this referendum strategy….”

Read the full The New York Times article

‘Amazing, Isn’t It?’ Long-Sought Blood Test for Alzheimer’s in Reach

July 28, 2020

A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists reported on Tuesday, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable and widely available.

The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s instead of another condition. And it identified signs of the degenerative, deadly disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s, according to research published in JAMA and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference….

A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists reported on Tuesday, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable and widely available.

The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s instead of another condition. And it identified signs of the degenerative, deadly disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s, according to research published in JAMA and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference….

Read the full The New York Times article