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A Tale of Two Data Scientists

March 25, 2021 • Posted in Blog

 

Neil Ferguson, Ph.D. Infamous Graph Youyang Gu

 

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

It was a long year ago (March 2020) that a dire prediction was issued by a group at Imperial College London (UK) regarding the possible effects of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The model predicted more than 500,000 UK deaths, and >2.2 million deaths in the U.S. by summer if no action were taken. One of the data scientists issuing that proclamation was Neil Ferguson, Ph.D. He and his group advised the government that “in the UK and US context, suppression will minimally require a combination of social distancing of the entire ...read more

The Ethics of Rationing COVID-19 Vaccine for the Sickest Among Us

January 13, 2021 • Posted in Blog

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D Distinguished Fellow

We must not allow our combined COVID-19 fatigue to prevent us from asking important questions about public health ethics. At the time I am writing this essay, we are just transitioning into Phase 2 of the vaccination plan. I am sure our public health officials are doing the best they can under unprecedented circumstances, so we should give them the benefit of the doubt. But for the sake of clarity in the future, some retrospective analysis will be crucial.

For instance, in our own state, we have abandoned traditional triage ethics in favor of a purely age-based ...read more

The Problem of Ill-Gotten Gain in Health Care

October 22, 2020 • Posted in Blog

C. Ben Mitchell, Ph.D. Distinguished Fellow

The politicized debate about President Trump’s treatment for Covid-19 may have shrouded an important set of questions about the science of developing treatments, viz., the problem of ill-gotten gain.

Among other treatment protocols, the President received Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, a “cocktail” of two neutralizing antibodies that has shown promise in some animal studies (see here and here). The media jumped on an association between REGN-COV2 antibodies and fetal cells, some even claiming that the antibodies were developed from fetal cells.

 

Screenshot of NYT headline on Oct. 8, 2020

 

 

 

 

The fact of the matter is REGN-COV2 was tested for its virus-neutralizing ...read more

A Project for Our Time

September 30, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been by turns dramatic and disconcerting, and, at times, draconian. I read about Steve Reiter’s deplorable experience and his new project in a BreakPoint commentary in July, and he was kind enough to speak with me by telephone on 24 July.

Steve’s beloved wife, Elizabeth, had diagnoses of lupus and pulmonary hypertension, among other difficulties. She had had a lengthy hospitalization in 2014, but had recovered. Steve attributes her recovery to excellent medical care and the 24/7 presence of her family. She had a Hickman line placed, and Steve ...read more

When Breath Is (Not Enough) Air: Let’s Talk about Ventilators

June 11, 2020 • Posted in Blog

There has been much public discussion about ventilators amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. It is humbling to consider that we, or someone we love, might require one. Most people know something about the benefit of a ventilator when needed; but how well do we really understand the functions and risks of mechanical ventilation? The pandemic presents an opportune time to learn about this. So I posed a series of questions about these machines and the processes involved in using them to a physician, who is a specialist in using ventilators to treat very ill patients. Those questions, and her answers, follow.  

1) ...read more

COVID-19 in Wuhan: Plea for Help Retracted

February 27, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

One thing is clear: COVID-19, the newest coronavirus to infect humans, has our attention. Locally, people planning to travel—almost anywhere—are wondering about where to obtain face masks. As of Tuesday of this week, reports the New York Times, the United States had 57 cases, with 40 of those related to the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Japan. The NYT article further reported,

  “We cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus,” Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, told a Senate panel on Tuesday. “And we need to ...read more

Life Without Us?

November 2, 2019 • Posted in Blog

By Jane Patton, Guest Columnist

It is not new that some people say that they do not want to bring children into the world. And, as far as the do’s and don’ts of being environmentally responsible, the carbon footprint of a single human being tops the list of avoidable behaviors. One presidential candidate even advocates abortion as a way to combat climate change. So, it may be okay to have one or two children. Any more than that and parents might be called selfish.

But, a growing movement is taking the idea of limiting births to the next level—preventing all births. Who ...read more

When Can Others Help Themselves to Our Organs?

July 25, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

We have an opt-in organ donation system in the United States. That is, you have to say, “Yes,” to organ donation in order to donate. Opting in is very easy, and you can usually do that through your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Even those too young to vote can opt-in for organ donation. Why is this service available through the DMV? A few moments’ thought can yield an answer.

England has recently changed its law governing organ donation. The new “opt-out” law takes effect in 2020:

Everyone in England over the age of 18 will ...read more

AMA Resists Embracing “Neutrality” on Physician-Assisted Suicide

June 11, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Yesterday, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates voted to retain the current position of the AMA RE physician-assisted suicide. That was the recommendation of the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA), and the CEJA report was accepted by a 65:35 majority, according to the National Right to Life News.

CEJA is responsible for maintaining and updating the AMA’s Medical Code of Ethics, and promoting “adherence to the Code’s professional ethical standards.” Last year, CEJA recommended maintaining the long-held AMA stance against physician-assisted suicide, but the House of Delegates rejected that recommendation. Further ...read more

Shift and Puzzle: What do an ape and a donkey have to do with bioethics?

January 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

Unmasking the Cultural Lies, One at a Time

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, Shift is a shrewd, crafty ape, and his neighbor, Puzzle, is a meek, somewhat simple donkey. It has been a long time since Aslan, the all-powerful lion, has been seen in Narnia. Therefore, when Shift spies an old lion skin, he decides to have Puzzle dress up in it and pretend to be Aslan. Shift constantly insists that Puzzle do all the heavy-lifting involved in any of their escapades, but in such a way that Puzzle thinks he is getting the ...read more