too soon?
May 11, 2020

Most scientists agree the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the 27 branches that make up the National Institutes of Health, faced a difficult decision when it decided to end a coronavirus treatment study early and begin giving remdesivir to patients assigned to receive a placebo after finding that the antiviral drug reduced recovery time. The call has received a lot of support, especially because it was made during a pandemic, and NIAID, considering it a moral imperative, has no regrets, Stat News reports. But there are some holdouts.

Steven Nissen, a trialist and cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, and Peter Bach, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, don't think recovery time reduction should have been the deciding factor. Instead, they say, the study should have continued until the NIAID was able to collect more data on mortality — the survival rate for coronavirus patients enrolled in the trial wasn't statistically significant when the study ended. "The question is: Was there a route, or is there a route, to determine if the drug can prevent death?," said Nissen.

Without getting a clearer answer to that question, he said, the study is a "lost opportunity."

The NIAID's clinical director, H. Clifford Lane, has a counter argument. He wants to know how "many patients would we want to put at risk of dying" to finalize a more complete study. Read more at Stat News. Tim O'Donnell

April 20, 2020

The world's first coronavirus "immunity passports" amid the pandemic are expected to be doled out in Chile. Government officials said Monday that the more than 4,600 recovered patients in the country will be able to receive physical and digital cards making them exempt from quarantines and other restrictions, The Washington Post reports.

Additionally, other applicants will reportedly be tested for antibodies as part of what Santiago promises will be a mass testing scheme to determine whether people have a high probability of being noncontagious.

Immunity cards have been discussed in many countries, including the United States, as a potential way to jumpstart economies that have been in lockdown, but they remain controversial, since it's unclear how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts. Santiago seems content with moving forward for now, arguing recovered patients "can help the community enormously, because they don't present a risk."

But while Chile has largely been proactive when it comes to the pandemic, testing more people than any other country in Latin America and instituting strict quarantine measures, doctors and scientists have urged the government to take a step back when it comes to the latest development.

"There are serious doubts over the existence of long-term immunity to this virus, and there was no consultation with the Chilean Immunological Society before this measure was announced," said Cristóbal Cuadrado, the technical secretary for health policy and studies with Chile's medical union. "We have called upon the government to re-evaluate the policy and involve experts in the discussion before implementing the scheme." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

April 3, 2020

When might movie theaters widely resume operations after closing their doors amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic? Disney apparently has a guess: no later than July, or maybe even June.

The studio on Friday announced many changes to its movie schedule, including a new opening date for Mulan. This live-action remake was originally set to hit U.S. theaters in March, but it was one of numerous films postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the film has a new opening date: July 24. Disney on Friday also didn't change the release date of Pixar's Soul, which is still set for June 19.

This would suggest Disney is under the impression theaters can reopen by the summer, though the studio could always delay Mulan again if it later becomes clear they won't. Black Widow, which was set for May, will also now come out in November, while Jungle Cruise, which was set for July, will head to next summer, and Artemis Fowl, which was set for May, will go straight to Disney+.

Still, Disney's decision to set Mulan in July comes after Sony made the opposite move, taking Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Morbius off the July schedule. Paramount on Thursday also moved June's Top Gun: Maverick to December, although the studio at the same time put The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run in July. Warner Bros. is another studio that hasn't given up on the summer movie season just yet, having pushed Wonder Woman 1984 to August. And Christopher Nolan's Tenet has yet to move from its previously-set release date of July 17.

But will these dates be too soon for large crowds to be gathering in movie theaters again? Variety earlier this week explored the idea that summer movie season might not happen at all this year, reporting that some insiders think even the Aug. 14 release date for Wonder Woman, which is three weeks after Mulan's new date, "may be premature." Brendan Morrow

March 25, 2019

There is still a great question of if Special Counsel Robert Mueller's full report into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia will ever be made public —the attorney general, in his summary, only included four partial quotes — but that isn't stopping book publishers from working themselves into a frenzy over the manuscript. Skyhorse Publishing, Scribner, and now Melville House have all announced plans to publish the report: "We've had an ISBN and a cover design for almost a year now," Melville House's co-founder, Dennis Johnson, told Publishers Weekly.

Skyhorse plans to release the Mueller report with an introduction by attorney Alan Dershowitz within three weeks of the report being made public. "We know that making the Mueller report instantly available will be both a public service and good business," Skyhorse's president, Tony Lyons, told PW. Scribner's edition, which would include some of The Washington Post's reporting as context and an introduction by the paper's investigative journalists Rosalind S. Helderman and Matt Zapotosky, is planned to be released as an e-book within three days, with the paperback edition following in as few as five days, of the report's release, PW adds.

Melville House already has a website, GetMuellerReport.com, for readers to preorder the Mueller report book, with Johnson calling it "the most anticipated publication in American history" and the website deeming it "a document that can actually have an impact on the very future of our democracy." It is the publishing house's first mass market paperback ever, costing $9.99 with an initial print run of 50,000 copies.

Public Radio International reports that "the public may never see a report from Mueller's investigation" while Attorney General William Barr has said his goal is to release "as much" of the report as possible. Jeva Lange

November 7, 2016

The politics reporters and producers at CNN have probably forgotten more about the 2016 election than most people ever knew, and as we come to the end of this long, long race, they are apparently getting a little nostalgic. Before you throw your laptop or phone to the floor in disgust, there were some good times — Birdy Sanders, Jeb! begging people to clap, Sen. Marco Rubio beaning a kid in the head with a football, Donald Trump getting attacked by a bald eagle, Hillary Clinton's shimmy, the "says who?/which polls?" interview, that guy who climbed Trump Tower — along with the bad and the downright ugly. If you need a memory jog to remember why you plan to vote the way you will, or just want to remember how much you have already forgotten, watch CNN's brief look back below. The jaunty music will ease you through. Peter Weber

April 18, 2016

One of the easiest criticisms to level at a film is that it is "not realistic enough," but Mark Wahlberg and the team behind the movie Patriots Day might be taking that a bit too seriously. Wahlberg was spotted dressed as a police officer at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday as part of filming for the Peter Berg-directed movie about the 2013 marathon bombings, The Washington Post reports.

"We're aspiring for real authenticity so that means filming in real locations. We will always ask and we will always be transparent with what our ask is. If there's one person who's uncomfortable, we're more than happy to go elsewhere," Berg told The Boston Globe last month.

Already in Watertown — where police got in a shootout with the brothers who set off the bombs — residents have opposed Berg and his team recreating the gun battle. "For me it was just: There's no way they can do this. Because I'm thinking to myself: That's going to stir things up all over again," one resident, Maria Van Ryn, told NPR.

But the cast and crew have stressed the importance of using real locations for the film. "There's huge pressure to get this right, but we're committed to doing that," Wahlberg said. Jeva Lange

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