medical journals and climate change


More than 200 medical journals from around the world have written an open letter demanding that governments stop climate change. They believe that a warming planet is the biggest threat to world health. Sound advice or over-reacting? Leave your comments. 

Michael Cook  
Editor 

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The Lone Star State and abortion


American supporters of abortion feel as though they are marching through the plains of Armageddon after SCOTUS failed to quash a Texas law which effectively bans the procedure. However, it’s not as simple as that. Read all about it below.

Michael Cook
Editor
    

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Third booster shot


The United States will offer a third booster shot to Americans. "It’s the best way to protect ourselves from new variants that may arise," said President Biden. "It will make you safer and for longer. It will help end this pandemic faster." But is it ethical to strengthen the immunity of Americans when people in other countries remain unvaccinated?

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Good luck, Taliban


This time around, the Taliban, who swept aside the US-supported government in a week of tragedy and “imbecility” (to quote Tony Blair), seem to be more sophisticated and more genial. Time will tell.

They have a big job on their hands. Over the past 20 years maternal and infant mortality fell dramatically. Public health improved, thanks to better sanitation and water supplies. A robust private health care system emerged. Will they be able to maintain the momentum for Afghanistan’s 40 million people? I hope so.  

Michael Cook  
Editor
  

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Fake vaccines


Personal trust is a pillar of the medical profession. It’s always shocking to hear that an unqualified person has been posing as a doctor (someone was arrested this week in Sydney) or selling counterfeit drugs. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a goldmine for some fraudsters, apparently. Thousands of people in India have received fake vaccines.

In our lead story today, we report that a German nurse gave patients a simple saline injection for no apparent reason.

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Can we trust medical research?


The middle of the Covid-19 pandemic is not an auspicious moment to cast doubt upon the reliability of scientific research. However, writing in a BMJ blog, Richard Smith, editor of The BMJ until 2004, launched a withering attack, saying that the system is riddled with fraudulent studies. “ It may be time to move from assuming that research has been honestly conducted and reported to assuming it to be untrustworthy until there is some evidence to the contrary,” he says. Dr Smith does not mention the pandemic but others are sure to raise questions about research into Covid-19. 

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Czech Republic and Roma


Sometimes, as a journalist, I feel like Winnie-the-Pooh, " a Bear of Very Little Brain”, when sifting through bioethics articles, which are normally very long, very complicated, and very subtle.

Even short articles can have the same baffling effect – one knows that something is wrong, but what?

As Pooh says, “when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it."

Take, for instance, a very short letter to Nature from three distinguished members of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), including Robin Lovell-Badge, one of the more illustrious members of the stem cell fraternity.

They argue that there is a human right, guaranteed by United Nations covenants, for humanity to benefit from science – and therefore the 14-day limit on embryo research should be abolished because it will deliver a plethora of benefits.

To my Pooh-like brain, this sounds odd. How is there a right to something that does not exist? Could not a snake-oil salesman make the same plea? If anyone has ideas on this score, please let me know.

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Euthanasia in the Netherlands


Foreign observers might have the impression that it is always open season for euthanasia in the Netherlands. Not so. While the guidelines are elastic and subject to interpretation, they do exist and people violating them risk prosecution.

Two of this week’s stories reflect this. In one, police have arrested a man who, they said, was selling lethal medication for suicide; in the other, the euthanasia bureaucracy and the public prosecutor are fighting over who makes the rules: the bureaucrats or the government.

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Advance directive implants


Logan’s Run is a 1976 sci fi film which has not stood the test of time. “Terminally silly” and “aggressively tedious” are words used by some of its harsher critics. However, its central conceit is memorable: that a future civilisation where everyone lives underground limits the lives of its citizens. In the palm of the hand they all have a "life-clock" crystal which begins blinking as they approach the "Last Day.”

Two American bioethicists have proposed something similar for dementia patients: an advance directive implant. Read about it in our lead story below.  

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no newsletter


Hi there!

Apologies for this -- I should have mentioned it last week -- but I am going on holidays and there will be no newsletter this weekend. Publication of BioEdge will resume in mid-July. 

See you then!

Michael Cook
BioEdge 

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