Remdesivir, Given to Half of Hospitalized Covid Patients in U.S., Is Big Win for Gilead — Boosted by Taxpayers

It was the end of April — just as the U.S. confirmed its millionth covid-19 case and 50,000 deaths — when White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci announced “highly significant” news about a drug called remdesivir.

That was surprising because the antiviral drug, owned by Gilead Sciences and developed with investment from the federal government, had languished for years with no apparent commercial use. It had struck out as a treatment for hepatitis C and Ebola.

But early in 2020, when the first global cases of a new pneumonia-like viral illness emerged in China, Gilead resurfaced the compound, branded as Veklury, and shared it with scientists across the globe. From the Oval Office, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said remdesivir would be the “standard of care” for treating coronavirus disease.

Its emergency-use approval by the Food and Drug Administration immediately drew a storm of … Read more

Big Business Boosts Vaccine Effort, but It’s ‘Complex Choreography’ to Get Shots in Arms 

This story is part of a partnership that includes NPR and KHN. It can be republished for free.

As states await the promise of a renewed federal pandemic response and expand the number of Americans who qualify for a shot, some governors are trying to scale up their covid vaccine operations — and smooth out the kinks — with the help of the private sector.

In Washington state, Starbucks, Microsoft and Costco are lending logistical expertise and manpower to public health agencies that are trying to dispatch their doses of vaccines more efficiently.

Over the weekend, thousands of people filed through the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina — now serving as a mass vaccine site — run by Honeywell and other local businesses that have partnered with the state.

And on Monday, Google pledged $150 million to “promote vaccine education and equitable distribution” and to make it easier for … Read more

Pain behaviour: what is it and what do we do about it?

I’m re-reading Fordyce’s classic Behavioral Methods for Chronic Pain and Illness and once again I’m struck by how many of the concepts he introduced and systematically investigated are either mis-interpreted and ignored in our current approaches to helping people with persistent pain. Today I’ll explore just a tiny portion of what Fordyce described.

Pain behaviour refers to all the observable actions we do in relation to experiencing pain (NB some people include thoughts as well, but for today I’ll just focus on observable actions). There are roughly two groups of actions: those involuntary ones that we can call nocifensive responses that include reflex withdrawal underpinned by spinal reflexes but including brainstem circuits (see Barik, Hunter Thompson, Seltzer, Ghitani & Chesler, 2018); and those that are developed and shaped by learning (operant conditioning as well as social learning).

When I write about learning, I often have comments about this suggesting people … Read more

Anti-Vaccine Activists Peddle Theories That Covid Shots Are Deadly, Undermining Vaccination

Anti-vaccine groups are exploiting the suffering and death of people who happen to fall ill after receiving a covid shot, threatening to undermine the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history.

In some cases, anti-vaccine activists are fabricating stories of deaths that never occurred.

“This is exactly what anti-vaccine groups do,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious diseases specialist and author of “Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-Science.”

Anti-vaccine groups have falsely claimed for decades that childhood vaccines cause autism, weaving fantastic conspiracy theories involving government, Big Business and the media.

Now, the same groups are blaming patients’ coincidental medical problems on covid shots, even when it’s clear that age or underlying health conditions are to blame, Hotez said. “They will sensationalize anything that happens after someone gets a vaccine and attribute it to the vaccine,” Hotez said.

As more seniors receive their first covid … Read more

Committed Champion for Health Equity Joins Biden White House

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a clinician, researcher, and academic leader at the Yale School of Medicine, was appointed by President Joe Biden to chair the White House COVID-19 equity task force. She is seen here at an appearance with the Biden transition team in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 8. Photo: Biden Transition / CNP via ZUMA Wire


Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, developed an interest in medicine at an early age. Her mother, a retired nursing professor, filled their home in the US Virgin Islands with medical books and invited Nunez-Smith to read anything she could reach on the bookshelf. “I started early on learning medicine and nursing texts and became fascinated with the human body and biology,” Nunez-Smith told Roni Caryn Rabin in the New York Times.

Essential CoverageThese interests became personal when Nunez-Smith’s father, who was in his 40s, suffered a stroke. Lacking adequate access to health care … Read more

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