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WHO head calls herd immunity approach ‘immoral’

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Dr Ghebreyesus said allowing the virus to spread would cause 'unnecessary' suffering

© Reuters
Dr Ghebreyesus said allowing the virus to spread would cause ‘unnecessary’ suffering

The head of the World Health Organization has ruled out a herd immunity response to the pandemic.

Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease through vaccinations or through the mass spread of a disease.

Some have argued that coronavirus should be allowed to spread naturally in the absence of a vaccine.

But WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said such an approach was “scientifically and ethically problematic”.

There have been more than 37 million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe since the pandemic began. More than one million people are known to have died.

While hundreds of vaccines are currently under development, with a number in advanced trials, none has yet received international approval.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Dr Ghebreyesus argued that the long-term impacts of coronavirus – as well as the strength and duration any immune response – remained unknown.

“Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it,” he said.

“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic.”

The WHO head added that seroprevalence tests – where the blood is tested for antibodies – suggested that just 10% of people had been exposed to coronavirus in most countries.

“Letting Covid-19 circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death,” he said.

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Scientists develop new precision medicine approach for pancreatic cancer

Scientists from the University of Glasgow are developing new ways to predict who will respond to drugs targeting damaged DNA in pancreatic cancer. 

Publishing their findings in Gastroenterology, the team used cells grown in the lab (cell lines) and mini replicas of patients’ tumours (organoids) to identify molecular markers that can predict which tumours will respond to a number of drugs that target damaged DNA.  

Dr David Chang, from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Sciences, called the results “a huge breakthrough in terms of what might be possible for future treatments.”

The team are now taking their strategy forward into a clinical trial to help doctors work out who might respond to the drugs, either alone or in combination. The trial – PRIMUS-004 – is part of our Precision Panc platform for pancreatic cancer, which aims to increase opportunities for people with pancreatic cancer to join clinical trials and to develop new treatment strategies. 

“The strategy we’ve developed is extremely promising, and we’re very pleased and proud to see it now be taken into clinical trial.” – Dr David Chang

Precision Panc

In 2017, we invested £10 million in Precision Panc to speed up our understanding of pancreatic and work towards more tailored treatment for the disease. It’s our biggest standalone in pancreatic cancer research to date, with the aim of driving progress for pancreatic cancer, where survival has remained stubbornly low.

A major barrier to treating pancreatic effectively is that there are very few treatment options. But there are some pancreatic cancers that cannot repair damaged DNA, which make them vulnerable to some new treatments. This is what researchers are aiming to target.

“We urgently need new ways to treatment pancreatic cancer,” says Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive. “The Precision Panc study offers a dynamic way to explore new tailored treatments, and it’s fantastic that we know have new drug candidates to add to the PRIMUS-004 trials.”

A menu of trials

PRIMUS-004 is a mid-stage (phase 2) clinical trial testing the new approach to help match people with pancreatic that’s spread to new targeted treatments.

The trial is due to open this month and will be an option for people who’ve already had platinum chemotherapy and whose cancer has a fault that means it cannot repair damaged DNA. Funded by AstraZeneca and endorsed by Cancer Research UK, it’s the first trial in the UK that will test this precision medicine approach in pancreatic cancer. 

PRIMUS-004 is the fourth trial that Precision Panc will feed into, with 3 studies already linked to the platform – PRIMUS-001 for people with pancreatic cancer that’s spread and PRIMUS-002, which is testing the benefits of 2 different chemotherapy combos before surgery. 

Another trial – PRIMUS-005, involving patients with locally advanced cancer – is also due to open this month. 

As well as helping to give people with pancreatic cancer better trial options, the Precision Panc study is also collecting and analysing tumour samples and looking for new biomarkers to

Scientists develop new ‘precision medicine’ approach to treating damaged DNA in pancreatic cancer

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists have developed a new “precision medicine” approach to treating the damaged DNA in the cancer cells of Pancreatic Cancer patients.

The findings mark an important step forward for potential treatment options for pancreatic cancer, improving the options and outcomes for a disease where survival rates have remained stubbornly low.

The study detailing the approach—led by the University of Glasgow and published in Gastroenterology—used cell lines and organoids that were generated from patients with pancreatic cancer to develop new molecular markers that can predict who will respond to drugs targeting DNA damage.

The researchers tested these markers using multiple drugs, and have developed a strategy that are now being taken forward into clinical trial. The trial will help doctors and researchers predict which patient will respond to which one of these drugs, either alone or in combination.

Funding for the trail has come from AstraZeneca and will now be included in the PRIMUS-004 clinical trial as part of the Precision-Panc therapeutic development platform for pancreatic cancer.

PRIMUS-004 is a ground-breaking pancreatic cancer trial, which aims to match patients with more targeted and effective treatment for their tumors. Run by Precision-Panc, a flagship therapeutic development program dedicated to pancreatic cancer—led by the University of Glasgow with major funding from Cancer Research UK—the trial brings a precision medicine approach to pancreatic cancer treatment for the first time in the UK.

The trial will open for recruitment in Glasgow shortly, with 20 other centers throughout the UK to follow.

Although survival for many types of cancer has improved, pancreatic cancer survival has lagged significantly behind in the last 40 years. The disease is particularly hard to treat, partly because it’s often diagnosed at a late stage.

A major limitation to treating pancreatic cancer effectively is that there are very few treatment options for patients with the disease. Currently, some patients with pancreatic cancer cannot repair damaged DNA in the cancer cells, which makes the cancer vulnerable to some new and established drug treatments.

Dr. David Chang, from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cancer Sciences, said: “Our study is a huge breakthrough in terms of what might be possible with future treatments. As part of our research, the strategy we’ve developed is extremely promising, and we’re very pleased and proud to see it now be taken into clinical trial. For us, this is a demonstration of a bench-to-bedside precision oncology approach to tackle this terrible disease.”

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “We urgently need new ways to treat pancreatic cancer. The disease only has a few treatment options and is generally diagnosed at a late stage, so survival has remained stubbornly low. The Precision Panc study offers a dynamic way to explore new tailored treatments, and it’s fantastic that we now have new drug candidates to add to the PRIMUS-004 trial. We look forward to seeing if these drugs, which have shown promise in the lab, have the same impact for people with pancreatic cancer.”

Deaths could approach 400,000 by February, model predicts

The US coronavirus death toll could almost double to about 400,000 by February, an influential model predicts.

a person standing on a sidewalk: People walk through Times Square near Broadway and an empty theater district on October 9, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

© Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
People walk through Times Square near Broadway and an empty theater district on October 9, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

This comes as the country reports the highest number of daily Covid-19 infections in almost two months, with experts offering grim outlooks if Americans don’t take precautions.

The latest forecast projects 394,693 US coronavirus deaths by February 1, 2021. That’s about 181,000 additional lives lost beyond the current US death toll of 213,860, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, projects that daily deaths in the US will peak at about 2,300 in mid-January.

For comparison, Friday’s US death toll was 990, according to Johns Hopkins.

The new projections are based on current conditions. If the US eases social distancing mandates, the number of deaths could be 502,852 by February 1, the model says.

Masks make a difference, experts say. If 95% of people in the US wore them, the model projects, 79,000 fewer lives would be lost by February 1, and daily deaths would peak at less than 1,400.

Globally, the model predicts that 2,488,346 people will die from coronavirus by February 1. The model shows that if 95% of people around the world wore masks, more than three-quarters of a million lives would be saved by that date.

US cases highest since August

Johns Hopkins reported a total of 57,420 new US cases on Friday.

That is the most reported cases in a single day since August 14, when there were 64,601 new cases, the data show.

Friday’s surge of 57,420 cases marks the third consecutive day of 50,000+ reported cases in the US, Johns Hopkins says. The last time the US reported three consecutive days of more than 50,000 cases was also in mid-August.

Now Florida, which over the summer became the country’s hotspot, is “ripe for another large outbreak,” an infectious disease expert told CNN. Late last month, the state cleared the way for bars and restaurants to fully reopen and this week reported more than 6,000 cases over a two day-period.

“What they’ve done is opened up everything as if nothing had ever happened there, and you and I could be talking probably in eight to 10 weeks, and I will likely bet that Florida will be a house on fire,” Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN Friday.

White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx also cautioned Friday of “early suggestions” of alarming trends in the Northeast, urging residents to take action and help prevent the spread before the virus takes off again.

“The actions this time have to happen at the personal level, in our private homes, rather than just the public spaces,”

India cases approach 7 million amid slower pace

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s confirmed coronavirus cases are nearing 7 million with another 73,272 reported in the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 926 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to 107,416. The deaths have remained below 1,000 for the seventh straight day.

India is seeing a slower pace of coronavirus spread since mid-September when the daily infections touched a record of 97,894 cases. It’s averaging more than 70,000 cases daily so far this month, while the recovery rate has exceeded 85%.

But health experts have warned that congregations during major festivals later this month and in November have the potential for the virus to spread.

“We have to work aggressively to make sure that during winter months and during the festive season coronavirus cases don’t rise dramatically,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert.

Experts say India’s fragile health system has been bolstered in recent months but could still be overwhelmed by an exponential rise in cases.

Consumer activity is gradually rebounding and millions of factory workers who had fled cities when India imposed a 2-month-long rigorous lockdown on March 25 are returning.


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New Client Fairview Health Services Selects CynergisTek for Proactive Approach to Security

Minneapolis, MN based health system determines managed service will help identify and address security risks

CynergisTek (NYSE AMERICAN: CTEK), a leading cybersecurity firm helping more than 1,000 healthcare facilities navigate emerging security and privacy issues, today announced that Fairview Health Services, one of Minnesota’s largest health systems, has joined the growing CTEK managed services client base.

During the managed service engagement, CynergisTek will perform periodic and recurring comprehensive risk assessments and provide advisory services supporting remediation efforts.

“We looked to CynergisTek to help us identify and reduce risk because their methodology adds in a human layer and skillset that we believe will aid us in building and maintaining a strong cyber resilient program,” says James Brady, Chief Information Security Officer and Vice President of Infrastructure for Fairview Health Services.

In CynergisTek’s third annual report, Moving Forward: Setting the Direction, it identified that organizations who have invested resources, time and money into security show year-over-year improvement in their NIST CSF scores. Through CynergisTek’s managed services program, clients have the foundation to implement a three-year plan to keep improving and maturing their security program while maintaining a predictable year-over-year budget.

“We are delighted to have Fairview Health Services as a new CynergisTek client. The momentum we’re seeing from some of the largest health systems joining the CTEK family in a time when COVID-19 has disrupted the industry is a testament to our reputation and the expertise of our people,” said Caleb Barlow, CEO and president at CynergisTek. Mr. Barlow went on to say “This recent signing coupled with the Valley Health System release we made last week is a positive sign that healthcare is trending to the next normal – the necessity to validate security effectiveness in a time when employees are working from home, the expansion of the network and its complexity has increased along with the brazen targeting from malicious hackers, like we saw in the recent Universal Health System ransomware attack, are no longer giving healthcare a reprieve.”

About Fairview Health System

Fairview Health Services ( is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit health system driven to heal, discover and educate for longer, healthier lives. Founded in 1906, Fairview provides exceptional care to patients and communities as one of the most comprehensive and geographically accessible systems in Minnesota. Fairview has enjoyed a long partnership with the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Physicians, now represented in the M Health Fairview brand. Together, we offer access to breakthrough medical research and specialty expertise as part of a continuum of care that reaches all ages and health needs.

About CynergisTek, Inc.

CynergisTek is a top-ranked cybersecurity firm dedicated to serving the information assurance needs of the healthcare industry. CynergisTek offers specialized services and solutions to help organizations achieve privacy, security, and compliance goals. Since 2004, the company has served as a partner to hundreds of healthcare organizations and is dedicated to supporting and educating the industry by contributing to relevant industry associations. The company has been recognized by KLAS as a

With an anthropologist’s eye, Duke pioneers a new approach to medical AI

If not for an anthropologist and sociologist, the leaders of a prominent health innovation hub at Duke University would never have known that the clinical AI tool they had been using on hospital patients for two years was making life far more difficult for its nurses.

The tool, which uses deep learning to determine the chances a hospital patient will develop sepsis, has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on patients. But the tool required that nurses present its results — in the form of a color-coded risk scorecard — to clinicians, including physicians they’d never worked with before. It disrupted the hospital’s traditional power hierarchy and workflow, rendering nurses uncomfortable and doctors defensive.

As a growing number of leading health systems rush to deploy AI-powered tools to help predict outcomes — often under the premise that they will boost clinicians’ efficiency, decrease hospital costs, and improve patient care — far less attention has been paid to how the tools impact the people charged with using them: frontline health care workers.


That’s where the sociologist and anthropologist come in. The researchers are part of a larger team at Duke that is pioneering a uniquely inclusive approach to developing and deploying clinical AI tools. Rather than deploying externally developed AI systems — many of which haven’t been tested in the clinic — Duke creates its own tools, starting by drawing from ideas among staff. After a rigorous review process that loops in engineers, health care workers, and university leadership, social scientists assess the tools’ real-world impacts on patients and workers.

The team is developing other strategies as well, not only to make sure the tools are easy for providers to weave into their workflow, but also to verify that clinicians actually understand how they should be used. As part of this work, Duke is brainstorming new ways of labeling AI systems, such as a “nutrition facts” label that makes it clear what a particular tool is designed to do and how it should be used. They’re also regularly publishing peer-reviewed studies and soliciting feedback from hospital staff and outside experts.


“You want people thinking critically about the implications of technology on society,” said Mark Sendak, population health and data science lead at the Duke Institute for Health Innovation.

Otherwise, “we can really mess this up,” he added.

Getting practitioners to adopt AI systems that are either opaquely defined or poorly introduced is arduous work. Clinicians, nurses, and other providers may be hesitant to embrace new tools — especially those that threaten to interfere with their preferred routines — or they may have had a negative prior experience with an AI system that was too time-consuming or cumbersome.

The Duke team doesn’t want to create another notification that causes a headache for providers — or one that’s easy for them to ignore. Instead, they’re focused on tools that add clear value. The easiest starting point: ask health workers what would be helpful.

“You don’t start by writing code,” said

Former CDC chief calls for ‘comprehensive approach’ as U.S. reports 55K new cases

Oct. 3 (UPI) — The former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the United States needs a more comprehensive approach to containing the novel coronavirus as case loads rose in at least two dozen states and Puerto Rico.

“Testing does not replace safety measures including consistent mask use, physical distancing, and hand washing,” former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a Friday statement shortly after it was revealed that President Donald Trump has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, 24 states saw their number of new cases rise at least 10% this week, and an analysis published by The Washington Post Saturday said COVID-19 cases have risen in 33 states and Puerto Rico since late August.

At least 12 states have also reported rising hospitalizations this week, with upticks in new cases throughout the country, with the state of New York reporting its highest one-day case count since May 28.

The United States reported about 55,000 new cases and 915 deaths Friday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The country’s seven-day average of new cases this week was 42,400 — about 20% higher than mid-September, when it was at a two-month low of 34,300.

The new case count is still below the mid-summer peak of 67,000 in July, but health officials warn the climbing numbers could lead toward a surge as weather grows colder and more people spend time indoors in enclosed spaces.

Also Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer violated her constitutional authority by continuing to issue orders to combat COVID-19 without the approval of legislators.

The ruling was requested by a federal judge earlier this year.

It effectively prohibits Whitmer from invoking emergency powers, which she has used to close businesses and require residents to wear masks — and serves as advice to the federal court, indicating how a federal court could rule in a lawsuit challenging Whitmer’s use of emergency powers.

President Donald Trump hospitalized for COVID-19

President Donald Trump exits the Marine One helicopter with his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday evening at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He made the short flight from the White House. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

The Latest: India’s COVID-19 Deaths Approach 100,000 | World News

NEW DELHI — India’s COVID-19 fatalities are closing on 100,000 with another 1,095 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

The update by the Health Ministry on Friday raised India’s death toll to 99,773. Its reported deaths are low for a country with nearly 1.4 billion people and more than 6.3 million confirmed cases, but experts say it may not be counting many fatalities.

The ministry also reported 81,484 new cases.

Total cases jumped from 1 million in mid-July to more than 6 million in less than 2 1/2 months.

New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru are the main urban centers of the infections, accounting for one in every seven confirmed cases and one in every five deaths in the country.


— Trump in ‘quarantine process’ after top aide gets COVID-19

— US hiring l ikely slowed in September for 3rd straight month

— Pfizer CEO pushes back against Trump claim on vaccine timing

— Democrats controlling the House narrowly have passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, a move that came as top-level talks on a smaller, potentially bipartisan measure dragged on toward an uncertain finish.

— The nation’s two largest school districts are rolling out ambitious and costly plans to test students and staff for the coronavirus. New York City launched a program to begin monthly testing of 10% to 20% of students and staff as the final wave of the district’s more than 1 million students returned to brick-and-mortar classrooms

— Madrid and its suburbs are preparing to enter a soft lockdown that restricts trips in and out of the Spanish capital following a weeks-long political turf fight over Europe’s latest infection hot spot.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at and


MANILA, Philippines — Two of the most popular Philippine tourist destinations, including the Boracay beach, have partially reopened with only a fraction of their usual crowds showing up given continuing coronavirus restrictions.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Friday that 35 local tourists, including seven from Manila, came on the first day of the reopening of Boracay, a central island famous for its powdery white sands, azure waters and stunning sunsets. Only local tourists from regions with low-level quarantine designations could go, subject to safeguards, including tests showing a visitor is coronavirus-free.

The mountain city of Baguio, regarded as a summer hideaway for its pine trees, cool breeze and picturesque upland views, has been reopened to tourists only from its northern region, she told ABS-CBN News.

Despite the urgent need to revive the tourism industry, it’s being done “very slowly, cautiously,” she said, adding mayors and governors would have to approve the reopening of tourism spots. “We really have to be careful,” she said.

Like in most countries, the pandemic has devastated the tourism industry in the Philippines, which now has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia at more than 314,000, with 5,504 deaths.

LOS ANGELES — California’s plan