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COVID-19 outbreaks still in effect at Spruce Hill Lodge, St. Mary's Gardens – TimminsToday

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The COVID-19 outbreaks at two seniors facilities in Timmins are still in effect.

An outbreak of the virus was declared at Spruce Hill Lodge in South Porcupine on April 11 after a resident tested positive. A second resident later tested postive as well. Both cases are now resolved.

The outbreak at St. Mary’s Gardens was announced April 16 after a staff member tested positive. That case is also now resolved. 

There is also an outbreak at Timmins and District Hospital.

Porcupine Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Lianne Catton said there have been no further positive cases at either of the seniors’ homes.

“There are a couple of individuals under investigation at this point in time who remain in isolation, the homes are following all appropriate precautions and measures,” she said.

There have been 60 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the health unit’s region. Of those, 43 are resolved and four people have died.

The 60th case was announced today and is a Timmins woman in her 40s. She is self-isolating.

A couple weeks ago, the health unit revealed it’s taking part in a limited-time surveillance initiative for Northern Ontario.

It has people with milder symptoms being eligible for testing. 

Catton said there is no clear indication when the program will end.

“We may get further direction as other surveillance strategies are implemented across the province as that impacts lab capacities and capacities across the system. But at this point in time we continue to promote testing, we have seen an increase and we’re quite pleased with the access to testing across the region with all the assessment centres and partners really working hard to facilitate this,” she said.

The health unit’s first epidemiology report is now available online.

It includes local data up to Saturday, April 25.

At that time there were 58 cases confirmed,  and 53 per cent (31 people) of the cases were women. The 60-79 age bracket had the highest number of cases with 37.9 per cent (22 cases).

The local case fatality rate at that time was 5.2 per cent, which is slightly under the provincial 5.8 per cent. One person has died from the virus locally since the report was put together.

The resolved cases percentage was 72.4 per cent, whereas Ontario’s is 53.7 per cent.

Because of the area’s low population and low case numbers, Catton said the report isn’t something that can be used to predict risk in particular groups or make broader statements.

“As you can imagine, it is very easy for these percentages and these rates to change quickly with very small changes in the number of cases or very small changes in the distribution oft he age groups,” she said.

The report will be updated online every Monday.

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COVID-19 research scandal: Unwanted diversion during pandemic – Egypt Independent

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June 6, 2020
10:04 am


The first research scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has created unnecessary distraction around the politically divisive drug hydroxychloroquine, scientists say, as questions swirl around the tiny health care company at the center of the affair.

On Thursday, most of the authors of major studies that appeared in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) retracted their work and issued apologies, saying they could no longer vouch for their data after the firm that supplied it — Chicago-based Surgisphere — refused to be audited.

At any other time the matter might have led to hang-wringing within academia, but it has taken on a new dimension as the world grapples with a virus that has claimed some 400,000 lives.

Of particular interest was the paper in The Lancet that claimed to have analyzed the records of 96,032 patients admitted to 671 hospitals across six continents, finding that hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit and even increased the risk of death.

Its withdrawal is seen as a boost to backers of the decades-old anti-malarial drug, who include US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.

“It’s very politicized — there is a group, probably not particularly small, who have learned to mistrust science and scientists, and this just feeds into that narrative,” Gabe Kelen, a professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told AFP.

This is despite the fact that even without The Lancet paper, evidence has been building against hydroxychloroquine’s use against COVID-19.

On Friday, results from a fourth randomized controlled trial — carefully designed human experiments considered the most robust form of clinical investigation — showed it had no impact against the virus.

– Mystery company –

The Lancet, which first published in 1823, is one of the world’s most trusted medical journals.

As a result, the hydroxychloroquine paper had an outsized impact: the World Health Organization, Britain and France all suspended ongoing clinical trials.

But things soon began unravelling after researchers noticed numerous red flags, from the huge number of patients involved to the unusual level of detail about the doses they had received.

Both The Lancet and the equally prestigious NEJM, which had published a paper on whether blood thinners elevated the risk of COVID-19 that relied on the same company, issued expressions of concern — before the authors themselves pulled both papers.

Surgisphere, founded in 2007 by vascular surgeon Sapan Desai, had refused to share data with third-party reviewers, saying it would violate privacy agreements with hospitals.

However, when science news site The Scientist began reaching out to hospitals throughout the US to ask whether they had participated, it found none.

Surgisphere’s internet profile has also raised numerous questions. Only a handful of employees could be found on LinkedIn, and most have now deactivated their accounts.

According to the Guardian newspaper, its employees included an adult model and until last week the contact page on its website redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, leaving it unclear how hospitals could have reached out to them.

Meanwhile Desai, who according to court records has three outstanding medical malpractice suits against him, has written extensively in the past on research misconduct.

“The most serious cause of fraud in medical publishing is manufactured data that authors use to support high impact conclusions,” he said in a 2013 paper.

– Systemic issues –

For Ivan Oransky, who founded Retraction Watch in 2010, the affair is far from surprising, serving instead to highlight systemic issues in science publishing and the way science is reported to the public.

“No one took a hard look at the data,” said Oransky. “But we’ve known about these issues for literally decades.”

Policymakers should get away from the idea of using the results of a single study to inform their decisions, he added, as was the case for the WHO — and the media has a responsibility to place papers in context instead of hyping them up.

The problem also stems from the fact that even leading journals rely too heavily on an honor system, but “you never know when a catastrophe is going to happen, if you’re not willing to put into place some reasonable safeguards,” added Oransky.

As to the future, the current episode is unlikely to serve as a wake-up call, he said. If one journal increases its diligence, more blockbuster papers will start appearing in its competitors.

Image: AFP/File / GEORGE FREY A pharmacy tech holds a tablet of hydroxychloroquine


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Unveiling Covid-19 research scandal – Asia Times

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The first research scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has created unnecessary distraction around the politically divisive drug hydroxychloroquine, scientists say, as questions swirl around the tiny health care company at the center of the affair.

On Thursday, most of the authors of major studies that appeared in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) retracted their work and issued apologies, saying they could no longer vouch for their data after the firm that supplied it – Chicago-based Surgisphere – refused to be audited.

At any other time the matter might have led to hang-wringing within academia, but it has taken on a new dimension as the world grapples with a virus that has claimed some 400,000 lives.

Of particular interest was the paper in The Lancet that claimed to have analyzed the records of 96,032 patients admitted to 671 hospitals across six continents, finding that hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit and even increased the risk of death.

Its withdrawal is seen as a boost to backers of the decades-old anti-malarial drug, who include US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.

“It’s very politicized – there is a group, probably not particularly small, who have learned to mistrust science and scientists, and this just feeds into that narrative,” Gabe Kelen, a professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told AFP.

This is despite the fact that even without The Lancet paper, evidence has been building against hydroxychloroquine’s use against Covid-19.

On Friday, results from a fourth randomized controlled trial – carefully designed human experiments considered the most robust form of clinical investigation – showed it had no impact against the virus.

Mystery company

The Lancet, which first published in 1823, is one of the world’s most trusted medical journals.

As a result, the hydroxychloroquine paper had an outsized impact: the World Health Organization, Britain and France all suspended ongoing clinical trials.

But things soon began unravelling after researchers noticed numerous red flags, from the huge number of patients involved to the unusual level of detail about the doses they had received.

Both The Lancet and the equally prestigious NEJM, which had published a paper on whether blood thinners elevated the risk of Covid-19 that relied on the same company, issued expressions of concern – before the authors themselves pulled both papers.

Surgisphere, founded in 2007 by vascular surgeon Sapan Desai, had refused to share data with third-party reviewers, saying it would violate privacy agreements with hospitals.

However, when science news site The Scientist began reaching out to hospitals throughout the US to ask whether they had participated, it found none.

Surgisphere’s internet profile has also raised numerous questions. Only a handful of employees could be found on LinkedIn, and most have now deactivated their accounts.

According to the Guardian newspaper, its employees included an adult model and until last week the contact page on its website redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, leaving it unclear how hospitals could have reached out to them.

Meanwhile Desai, who according to court records has three outstanding medical malpractice suits against him, has written extensively in the past on research misconduct.

“The most serious cause of fraud in medical publishing is manufactured data that authors use to support high impact conclusions,” he said in a 2013 paper.

Systemic issues

For Ivan Oransky, who founded Retraction Watch in 2010, the affair is far from surprising, serving instead to highlight systemic issues in science publishing and the way science is reported to the public.

“No one took a hard look at the data,” said Oransky. “But we’ve known about these issues for literally decades.”

Policymakers should get away from the idea of using the results of a single study to inform their decisions, he added, as was the case for the WHO – and the media has a responsibility to place papers in context instead of hyping them up.

The problem also stems from the fact that even leading journals rely too heavily on an honor system, but “you never know when a catastrophe is going to happen, if you’re not willing to put into place some reasonable safeguards,” added Oransky.

As to the future, the current episode is unlikely to serve as a wake-up call, he said. If one journal increases its diligence, more blockbuster papers will start appearing in its competitors.

AFP

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

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Small percentage of Ottawa residents infected with COVID-19: Ottawa Public Health – CTV News Ottawa

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OTTAWA —
Ottawa Public Health is reminding residents that COVID-19 is still circulating in our community, and everyone needs to do their part to help limit the spread of the virus.  

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brent Moloughney says Ottawa Public Health estimates approximately one per cent of Ottawa residents have been infected with novel coronavirus.

“Through everyone’s actions, we’ve been successful in reducing the number of infections that would have otherwise occurred,” said Dr. Moloughney.

“Overall, we estimate that only a small percentage of Ottawans have been infected with COVID so far, perhaps as low as one per cent but perhaps a bit higher.”

As of Thursday, Ottawa Public Health reported 1,985 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 248 deaths.

“Regardless of the specific number through, the key implication is that the vast majority of us remain susceptible to infection,” said Dr. Moloughney, noting the new cases reported daily show COVID-19 is still circulating in the community.

“In order to track cases within Ottawa and to limit transmission, please seek testing if you think you may be infected with the virus.”

The Ontario Government announced in May that asymptomatic residents of Ontario could present for COVID-19 testing.  Ottawa Public Health says residents can visit the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena and the two COVID-19 care clinics for testing.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says the data from the expanded testing criteria has been “educational” as more people present for COVID-19 testing.

“What we’ve found was as the number of people tested grew, we didn’t find a lot more cases. That per cent positivity hasn’t grown,” said Dr. Etches.

“It’s telling us that population out there without symptoms, the general population, may not be where we’re going to find most of our cases.”

The medical officer of health says Ottawa Public Health and health officials in eastern Ontario will test all staff in long-term care homes twice in June.  That would be 8,000 COVID-19 tests this month.

“Our goal is to use all of the testing capacity we have,” said Dr. Etches, adding Ottawa Public Health will look to “test in a smart way”, including workplaces and congregate care settings.

Limit your contacts

With warm weather in the forecast for the weekend, Ottawa Public Health is reminding people to practice physical distancing and limit interactions with people outside your household.

“As more activities become possible, the new normal will be to consider how risky an activity is and how you can reduce the risk of transmission for yourself, your family and others,” said Dr. Moloughney.

“In general, outdoor activities are less risky than indoor ones. The more people that are involved and the closer the contact, the higher the risk.”

Ottawa Public Health has issued a graphic looking at “least safe options” and “safer options” for activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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