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Self-Isolating Commission Head Snubs EU Advice on COVID-19 Quarantine Length | World News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said she would leave quarantine on Tuesday after having been in contact with someone positive for COVID-19 a week earlier, despite EU recommendations of 14 days of self-isolation.

Von der Leyen is following Belgium’s rules, which have just been softened, but her decision to ignore the stricter advice from the bloc’s public health body could further weaken calls for a EU common approach to battle the epidemic.

Von der Leyen, who is 61 and is a physician by training, said she would remain in precautionary self-isolation until Tuesday evening, after a person she came into contact with on September 29 in a meeting in Portugal tested positive on Sunday.

She tested negative for the virus on Thursday and Monday.

A spokesman for the Commission declined to comment on the EU recommendation but said the length of her quarantine was in line with Belgian rules.

Belgium, which is home to the EU headquarters, shortened mandatory quarantine from 14 to seven days on Oct 1, despite having one of Europe’s highest infection rates. That was done mostly because people struggled to respect the rule which had a heavy social and economic impact, a spokeswoman for the health ministry said.

However, the country’s decision disregarded the advice of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) which in September reiterated its recommendation of a two-week quarantine for persons who had had contact with confirmed cases.

The ECDC’s guidance says quarantine could be shortened to 10 days after a negative test. The agency declined to comment on von der Leyen’s decision.

The head of the agency, Andrea Ammon, has warned that even the 14-day quarantine may not be enough, as in 3-4% of cases infections emerge after two weeks.

As infections are again rising sharply across Europe, other EU countries have also relaxed their quarantine rules, and a patchwork of national rules has emerged.

In September France shortened the duration of mandatory self-isolation to seven days. Spain, the country with the highest infection rate in Europe, cut the mandatory quarantine to 10 days, saying that most people are no longer infectious after that period.

Italy, which has currently one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, maintains a 14-day quarantine in line with recommendations from the ECDC and World Health Organization.

The European Commission has repeatedly urged the 27 EU states to better coordinate their strategies to combat the epidemic and use common criteria to assess the spread of the disease before introducing new restrictive measures.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, Editing by William Maclean)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Before Trump tested positive for coronavirus, he disregarded public health advice

In the seven months since the outbreak first spread across the U.S., he has flouted seemingly every basic health guideline put forth by his own government in response.

He repeatedly refused to wear a face mask, and held large rallies with hundreds of supporters who did the same, often in violation of local ordinances. He allowed the White House to continue its daily operations with scant social distancing, exposing himself to dozens of people who had taken few protections against the virus.

And again and again, he insisted such an approach was fine — because the White House was testing his close contacts every day, or because he was taking an antimalarial drug with no proven effect on healthy people exposed to the virus. Pressed on the issue during Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland, he said: “So far, we have had no problem whatsoever.”

Yet as the pandemic has carried on, killing more 205,000 Americans many have pointed to that pattern of medically risky behavior to explain Trump’s own infection with the virus.

Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist at the University of Washington, said that the diagnosis was the inevitable consequence of Trump and his aides ignoring social distancing guidelines and failing to wear face masks.

“The fact that this even occurred is a damning indictment [of] their months and months of misrepresenting good public health practice,” he told MSNBC’s Brian Williams. “This did not have to happen.”

Now, Trump, a medically obese 74-year-old man whose age and weight may increase the risk of complications, must contend personally with the virus that he has spent much of his fourth year in office downplaying.

After he announced the test results early on Friday morning, White House aides said all his political events would be canceled for the foreseeable future. Trump wrote on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump would “begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately.”

That is a swift reversal from the loose adherence to health guidelines that he has displayed for months.

In March, as his administration scrambled to contain an outbreak quickly spreading across the country, he urged for Americans to practice social distancing at news conferences, where he and his aides often ignored that advice. Trump and members of his coronavirus task force were seen touching their faces, exchanging handshakes and congregating shoulder-to-shoulder behind the lectern.

With much of the country on lockdown, that behavior continued for months. In May, after news broke that two White Houses staffers had tested positive for the coronavirus, Trump told White House physician Sean P. Conley that he wanted to start taking hydroxychloroquine.

By then, the Food and Drug Administration had already warned against using the antimalarial drug outside a hospital setting or a clinical trial, as scientists noted the drug could in fact increase the risk of death among patients with heart problems.

But Trump demurred, noting that hydroxychloroquine had been approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments for decades. Following discussions with Conley, they decided that

The advice that shaped Insitro CFO Mary Rozenman’s biotech career

Mary Rozenman initially set out to be a doctor, after watching her sister deal with uncontrolled epilepsy throughout her childhood.

But she realized in college, that blood made her cringe. Instead, Rozenman got her doctorate in organic chemistry and chemical biology from Harvard University. 

Then as a 26-year-old working under David Liu, a gene-editing pioneer, something about drug development didn’t sit right with the young chemist. Among the thousands of new discoveries each year, just a small handful of them make it through the “funnel,” she said.

“I envisioned a funnel, where you have at the top of the funnel all of these amazing discoveries and innovations that sort of move through the system,” Rozenman told Business Insider. 

“And somehow only a small handful of them get filtered into medicines that actually make it out into the real world’s drug supply,” she said.

Rozenman needed to understand how that funnel works, she said. What happened behind the scenes to squelch each year’s hundreds of thousands of breakthroughs, and where did the money come from to advance some things and not others? It led her to consider a career outside of research. 

“I wouldn’t know what the right place for me to participate was because I only understood the top of the funnel and the very bottom, from a patient’s perspective. And that’s why I went to McKinsey,” Rozenman said.

Read more: Meet the 30 young leaders who are forging a new future for healthcare in the pandemic’s shadow

One piece of advice changed Rozenman’s approach to changing the industry

Rozenman joined McKinsey in 2008 with the goal of touching every single piece of the pharmaceutical business from discovery to marketing, she said.

But a year in, Rozenman’s mentor Diem Nguyen of Pfizer, who at the time managed a $10 billion slice of the business, gave her some tough advice. 

“She said ‘You’re really smart and really good. But you’re going to hit a wall in your career unless you learn how to read a P&L,'” Rozenman said.

A profit and loss statement, or income statement, is one of the primary financial statements detailing a company’s revenues and expenses. The advice made Rozenman feel defensive, but at the same time, she was making strategic recommendations to large companies without a sufficient understanding of corporate finance, she said.

So Rozenman carved out a focus area within McKinsey, the intersection of pharma and corporate finance, as consultants there do in order to make partner, she said. In 2012, as a junior partner and leader in the firm’s healthcare practice, she left to use her new skills for Longitude Capital, a $1.2 billion venture capital firm for healthcare startups.

“That was the reason that I actually left the firm to be a venture investor,” Rozenman said. “That was the funnest part for me — thinking about these early stage technologies and how do you actually really push them along, and how much are they worth, and how do you make it happen?”

Reinventing drug