March 5, 2024

Coronavirus news briefs

The pandemic has some unexpected effects

Surrogacy arrangements. Travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic have left many surrogate parents separated from the baby that they commissioned, or cooling their heels in a foreign hotel with their baby. The Guardian highlights the case of James Washington and his husband Rob, both British, who are stuck in Portland, Oregon with their newborn baby. They cannot get US citizenship for their son or organise an adoption. “There are hundreds of families currently stuck, or about to be stuck, in the US right now because of coronavirus,” said Robin Pope, an Oregon family lawyer and assisted reproduction specialist.

IVF clinics are postponing treatment. The American Society for Reproduction Medicine recommends that new treatment cycles be suspended, all fresh or frozen embryo transfers be cancelled, and all elective surgeries be suspended. Patients who are in the middle of a cycle should be cared for.

“It is quite conceivable that infertility services could be shut down as the medical emergency ramps up, and we would then turn around and try to help as general doctors not as infertility doctors,” Dr David Molloy, IVF Directors Group of Australia and New Zealand chairman, told The Age. “If things go badly over the next month, we could see our outpatient operating theatres that are used for IVF egg pick-ups being turned into intensive care beds.”

Euthanasia and assisted suicide. The World Federation of Right to Die societies has postponed its annual international conference. The WFRTD brings together of 49 right to die organizations from 26 countries.

Transgender surgeries: “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, trans communities on Reddit and Twitter are being flooded with reports of postponed and canceled surgeries in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Thailand, and elsewhere, leading to enormous stress and disappointment on top of a global health crisis.” Vice, March 20

Fake news multiplies. Russia may be using fake news about the Covid-19 pandemic to destabilise the European Union, according to EUvsDisinfo, an organisation that tracks fake news from Russia. The claims are often contradictory: it’s just another flu vs it will send us back to “the worlds of Mad Max and Resident Evil”. EU officials are puzzled. Peter Stano, of theEU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for told Deutsche Welle: “We have seen an increase in the amount of misinformation originating outside the EU. Some has been Russian, spread by Russian providers and pro-Kremlin sources.” Russia isn't the only source of fake news, but wherever it comes from, “it threatens people's lives.”

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge  

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