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Facebook says it will finally ban anti-vaccination ads

  • Facebook said Tuesday it is launching a new global policy that bans ads that discourage people from getting vaccines.
  • The company previously had a policy against vaccine hoaxes that were publicly identified by global health organizations. 
  • Facebook will still allow ads that advocate for or against legislation of government policies around vaccines, including the Covid-19 vaccine. 



graphical user interface, application: Facebook's new campaign for flu shots.


© Provided by CNBC
Facebook’s new campaign for flu shots.

Facebook said Tuesday it is launching a new global policy that bans ads that discourage people from getting vaccines. The company previously had a policy against vaccine hoaxes that were publicly identified by global health organizations. 

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“Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it,” the company’s head of health, Kang-Xing Jin, and its director of product management, Rob Leathern, said in a blog post Tuesday. 

The new ban comes amid a series of policy changes announced by the company to rid its social networks of problematic content it had previously been hesitant to remove. This includes a ban on Holocaust denialism announced earlier this week, a prohibition on pages and groups espousing the QAnon conspiracy theory last week, a temporary ban on political ads following the Nov. 3 U.S. election, a ban last month on any ads that seek to delegitimize the results of the U.S. election, and a decision last month to stop the spread of groups on its social network that focus on giving users health advice.

Facebook will still allow ads that advocate against government policies around vaccines, including the Covid-19 vaccine. 

For instance, Facebook said it would allow ads like the ones a state delegate candidate in Virginia launched in August, which included the language “STOP FORCED CORONAVIRUS VACCINATIONS! … All medications have risks, and we believe discussion alone of mandating a vaccine before it’s released, without knowing if there’s long term side effects, is both premature and dangerous.”



graphical user interface, text: Ad run by Isaiah Knight on Facebook.


© Provided by CNBC
Ad run by Isaiah Knight on Facebook.

However, ads that explicitly discourage vaccines — including portraying them as ineffective or unsafe, among other things — will be banned.

“If an ad that advocates for/against legislation or government policies explicitly discourages a vaccine, it will be rejected,” a spokesperson wrote CNBC. “That includes portraying vaccines as useless, ineffective, unsafe or unhealthy, describing the diseases vaccines are created for as harmless, or the ingredients in vaccines as harmful or deadly.”    

The blog post also outlined the platform’s plans to direct people with general information about the flu vaccine and how to get it, using its “Preventive Health” tool. 

It also said it’s working with the World Health Organization and UNICEF “on public health messaging campaigns to increase immunization rates.” 

However, at least one researcher suggested Facebook’s move is a case of too little, too late.

“I think a lot vaccine [hesitancy] researchers know the potential that Facebook has to promote vaccine hesitancy,” said Kolina Koltai, a vaccine researcher at the Center for an Informed Public at the University of Washington.

“This

Remdesivir study finally published, and an expert in critical care medicine gives us his verdict

Remdesivir study finally published – an expert in critical care medicine gives us his verdict
A patient receiving supplemental oxygen is likely to benefit the most. Credit: 99Art/Shutterstock

The results of the ACTT-1 trial, which looked at the effectiveness of remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, have finally been published. So far the only drug that has been shown to reduce deaths from the disease has been dexamethasone, a steroid that suppresses the immune system through its anti-inflammatory effects. Steroids have a secondary effect on the disease—they don’t target the virus itself. Remdesivir, on the other hand, goes straight to the cause of the disease by inhibiting the virus.

The drug, which was developed by Gilead Sciences, was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration under an “emergency use authorisation” on May 1. It was recently used to treat President Donald Trump.

Gilead Sciences has claimed that the drug has significant benefits for patients—but robust data has been lacking until now. This makes the long-awaited results of the ACTT-1 trial important. Having read the study, most physicians treating patients with COVID-19 will be asking themselves the same question: “Should I be using remdesivir for my patients?”

Should all COVID-19 patients get remdesivir?

The trial follows a gold-standard design of being double blind, randomized and controlled, and like most trials published in top medical journals, at first glance the outcomes are fairly impressive. They found that patients receiving the drug improved and recovered more quickly, were less likely to progress to severe disease, were discharged from hospital sooner, and had a lower death rate of 11.4% compared with 15.2% in patients receiving “usual” treatment.

Based on these positive findings, it would be tempting to conclude that all patients who have the disease should receive the drug, but since it costs around US$2,340 (£1,795) to treat one patient, and is likely to be in short supply in the UK for the foreseeable future, the question warrants a more considered analysis.

The use of any drug also has potentially negative consequences. Remdesivir has not been around long enough to have a track record for safety, and the reports of side-effects in COVID patients continue to grow.

When we unpick the data and look at analyzes of smaller groups (subgroup analyzes), the only patients for whom benefit was conclusively demonstrated were those who were less severely ill and receiving only supplemental oxygen rather than being on a ventilator. It is worth remembering that ACTT-1 is a relatively small trial and sicker patients may well benefit, but it has yet to be proven. Another interesting subgroup analysis showed that patients receiving dexamethasone showed added benefit with the addition of remdesivir, which is good news.

No magic bullet

So when I go into my hospital this week and am confronted on the wards with patients who are ill with COVID-19, ACTT-1 tells me that, provided I can find remdesivir on the pharmacy shelf, I should be confident to use it in any patients who are receiving oxygen alone, in the hope that they will recover sooner and, more

When COVID vaccine is finally rolled out, who gets it first?

President Donald Trump says a coronavirus vaccine will be approved within weeks. Health experts say several months is more likely.

Approval is one thing. Producing enough vaccine so everyone can be vaccinated is quite another. The chief of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SSI), says that will take four or five years.

Any safe, effective vaccine against COVID-19 will be in short supply until production ramps up. In the meantime, who’s first in line to get vaccinated?

Plans are still being worked out. Each country or organization will have to determine whom it immunizes initially and how the vaccine will be distributed, said Sir Mene Pangalos, executive vice president of pharma giant AstraZeneca, in an interview with the BBC.

In the United States, a five-phase approach drafted in September by a panel assembled by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), strives to fairly allocate limited supplies of a vaccine to U.S. residents:


Phase 1: Health care workers and first responders (5% of the U.S. population)

Phase 2: People with underlying medical conditions that put them at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease or death, and older adults in densely populated settings like nursing homes (10%)

Phase 3: Essential service workers at high risk of exposure, teachers and school staff, inmates and prison staff, people in homeless shelters, older adults who have not already been treated, people with underlying medical conditions facing moderate risk (30-35%)

Phase 4: Young adults, children and essential service workers at increased risk of exposure (40-45%)

Phase 5: All remaining residents (5-15%)

(Note: Phases 1 and 2 could occur in tandem.)

Last month the World Health Organization also released a guidance for a global vaccine allocation that is still in its early stages. It lists which groups should have priority access.

The U.S. hopes to get 300 million doses, with the first doses available by January, through its fast-track vaccine program, Operation Warp Speed.

Meanwhile, the WHO, epidemic response group CEPI and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance of governments and organizations, have been pooling resources to ensure that rich countries don’t monopolize vaccine stocks at the expense of poorer nations. Through their COVAX plan, they are hoping to raise about $2 billion to support the speedy development of a vaccine and ensure its equitable distribution worldwide. Their goal is 2 billion doses for vulnerable countries by the end of 2021.

At least 80 wealthy nations and economies have joined the COVAX effort. The United States is not among them.

The Gavi plan parallels the NASEM guidance, with health workers getting the first dibs on a vaccine (3% of a country’s population) and the over-65s and high risk groups next in line (20%). No country will receive enough doses to vaccinate more than 20 percent of their population until all nations in the group have been offered that amount.

The cost of an individual vaccine dose could vary widely.

SSI is being bankrolled with $150 million from Gavi and the

Signs America’s Opioid Epidemic Might Finally Be Waning | Health News

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

SATURDAY, Oct. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Here’s some heartening news on the opioid painkillers front: Abuse of the prescription medicines in the United States fell by more than one-quarter between 2007 and 2018.

“Prior research has shown slight reductions in abuse rates, but our analysis shows we’re tracking statistically significant year-to-year declines in abuse, indicating that the decrease is not an anomaly and truly represents a trend in falling prescription drug abuse levels,” said study author Mario Moric, a biostatistician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

He and his colleagues analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey of about 70,000 Americans aged 12 and older who are asked about their use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

For the study, prescription opioid abuse was defined as use without the consent of a physician.

The percentage of survey respondents who said they’d abused prescription opioids in the previous year fell from 4.9% in 2007 to 3.7% in 2018, a 26% decrease.

There were significant declines in prescription opioid abuse from 2012 to 2018, with the exception of 2015, when higher numbers were reported due to a survey redesign introduced that year, the researchers said.

The findings were to be presented Saturday at the virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

“We believe the message of the dangers of opioid use without supervision of a medical professional is finally getting through and changing people’s mindset and behavior,” Moric said in a meeting news release.

“Pain medications such as opioids are an important resource in the treatment and care of patients, but they are not a cure-all,” said study co-author Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Pain Medicine and executive vice chair of anesthesiology at Rush University Medical Center.

“Since opioids have risks and can be highly addictive, they should be used only under the supervision of a physician who can consider their safety and how the medication will affect a patient over time,” Buvanendran said in the release. “Prescribers and patients are now better armed with the information they need to make educated choices in pain management.”

Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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