The pandemic’s devastation continues

Dear Members of the Harvard Chan Community:

After more than a year of disruption, devastation and loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are finally beginning to see signs of hope here in the United States. Nationally, death counts have dropped from 3,000 per day to roughly 700. Average daily cases are declining and more than half of adults over 18 have been at least partially vaccinated.

However, even as the situation in the U.S. improves and wealthy countries ramp up their vaccination efforts, the pandemic is still ravaging many parts of the world. Some of the hardest hit countries include India, which yesterday reported more than 300,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the sixth day in a row. Hospitals lack sufficient oxygen, providers are scrambling to secure ICU beds for the sickest patients, and vaccines remain largely out of reach. The death toll is rising and crematoriums are organizing mass funeral pyres to keep up. Brazil is being overwhelmed by an extremely contagious variant that is leading to high rates of death, and that appears to be spreading through Latin America, where 1 million people have already died from COVID-19. Countries like Thailand, which was hailed for successfully containing the virus when it first broke out last year, are now experiencing a new wave of infections. And despite the ongoing global crisis, high- and middle-income countries have received 82 percent of vaccines that have been administered to date, leaving low-income countries increasingly vulnerable to surges.

We know that the situation remains immensely difficult for many of our students, staff, and faculty with family and friends around the world. We welcome the news that the Biden administration is extending needed testing kits, PPE, and other medical supplies to India, and is planning to send millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines. We wish to see additional, urgent action to close the global vaccine gap for COVID-19. And we want to be as supportive as we can to you during this time.

If you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out to the resources below:

Students may contact Colleen Cronin in Student Affairs,, 617-432-1542, or Harvard University Counseling and Mental Health Services, 617-495-2042 (617-495-5711 after hours).

Faculty and staff members may contact Jennifer Ivers in Faculty Affairs,; Linda Picard in Human Resources,; or Harvard’s Employee Assistance Program, 877-327-4278 (877-EAP-HARV).

Members of the community can contact Lilu Barbosa in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,

Additionally, the Ombuds Office provides a highly confidential forum to students, faculty, and staff whose concerns are affecting their work or studies.


Michelle, Jane, and Lilu

Michelle A. Williams
Dean of the Faculty
Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development

Jane J. Kim
Dean for Academic Affairs
K.T. Li Professor of Health Economics

Amarildo “Lilu” Barbosa
Chief Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer