LIFEalerts – Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics

USA – Vaccine manufacturer Merck shifts focus

Vaccine manufacturer Merck has abandoned development of two coronavirus vaccines, after extensive research concluded that the shots offered less protection than just contracting the virus itself and developing antibodies. The company announced that the shots were ‘well tolerated’ by test patients, but generated an ‘inferior’ immune system response in comparison with natural infection. Merck will instead focus on research into therapeutic drugs labelled as MK-7110 and MK-4482 which aim to protect patients from the damage of an overactive immune response to the virus. Interim results from a phase 3 study showed a greater than 50% reduction in risk of death or respiratory failure hospitalized patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 using the MK-7110 drug. Merck is to receive around $356 million from the US government to fast-track production. More

USA – COVID-19 guidelines for Moderna and Pfizer vaccine administering

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidance on the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Pregnant women should not get vaccinated with Moderna unless they are at high risk of exposure like being a health worker. WHO director of immunisation Kate O’Brien said that clinical trials of the Moderna vaccine were still needed on pregnant women. The report also emphasised the need for facilities that treat allergic reactions to be readily available at vaccine administering sites with regards to Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Latest guidance from Public Health England states, “The early Covid-19 vaccines do not contain organisms that can multiply in the body, so they cannot infect an unborn baby in the womb.” More

South Africa – Prisoners to get vaccinated first

Outrage is brewing over the government’s decision to vaccinate awaiting trial and sentenced prisoners before ordinary citizens, when vaccines for the coronavirus become available. The reason for this is believed to be due to confinement and overcrowding and therefore prisons are considered to be the prime sites for the virus. Phase one will mean that frontline workers such as healthcare workers will be vaccinated first, Phase two will vaccinate teachers, police, municipal workers and other front-line personnel. People with comorbidities and people over 60 years of age, institutions including old age homes, shelters and prisons will be prioritised. Phase three will then vaccinate the remaining adult population. Experts, including the World Health Organization said the reason why prisoners should be prioritised was that when they (prisoners) contract Covid-19, they can easily and immediately transmit the disease to their fellow prisoners and prison staff as well as healthcare workers who treat them. More