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In the wake of an outbreak of coronavirus that began in China in 2019, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health experts have been speaking to a variety of media outlets and writing articles about the pandemic. We’ll be updating this article on a regular basis. Here’s a selection of stories from September 2021 in which they offer comments and context:
September 30: The peril of 5 percent (Harvard Gazette)
Pockets of unvaccinated older people leave northern states vulnerable to a COVID-19 surge this winter, according to Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.
September 30: Young people drive COVID-19 infections (The Eagle Tribune)
Lower vaccination rates among younger people, combined with a heightened risk of infection from the Delta variant, are driving a surge in COVID-19 infections, according to experts. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and state public health commissioner, said that a perception that young adults have little to fear from COVID-19 has led to a false sense of security among those eligible for vaccines.
September 29: We’re already barreling toward the next pandemic (The Atlantic)
Experts, including Mary Bassett, director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, discussed the importance of shoring up long-neglected public health systems in the U.S. and addressing inequities that leave large segments of society susceptible to pandemics.
September 28: Opinion: Indoor masking doesn’t always make sense when everyone is vaccinated (Washington Post)
In this opinion piece, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, wrote that requiring masks indoors when everyone is fully vaccinated sends the message that vaccines don’t work—even though they work extremely well. “That’s a dangerous message when the main goal should be to persuade people to get the shots,” he wrote.
September 28: Who Should Get A Booster Shot? And When? (WGBH)
As a guest on WGBH’s “Greater Boston,” Asaf Bitton, executive director of Ariadne Labs, said that more communication and clear messaging is needed around COVID-19 booster shots. “What I tell people and what I tell my patients: This is the case where we’re probably going to get the answers and recommendations, like we will for the kids, in a few weeks or less,” Bitton said. “So right now, hold tight. If you’re in a high-risk group, then absolutely [you] should get the booster—talk to your doctor.”
September 28: 4 Questions (New York Times)
Dean Michelle Williams discussed the need for more rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests; called for stepping up efforts to distribute vaccines worldwide, as well as providing boosters in the U.S. to those who need them most; and recommended addressing the concerns of “vaccine inquisitive” people with respect and empathy.
September 28: State Police, union trade assertions over vaccine mandate; disease experts say troopers should get shots (Boston Globe)
Dozens of Massachusetts state troopers are reportedly planning to resign rather than be forced to take COVID-19 vaccines. Some public health experts, including Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that troopers have a duty to protect the public by getting the shots. “There’s a very valid argument to be made that these individuals are signing up to serve the public and that doesn’t always mean that they get all their choices — you do get stripped of some of your freedom in the name of public service,” he said.
September 27: Experts hope for 60 to 80 percent of Americans vaccinated by year’s end (Washington Post)
Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was among five experts who weighed in on vaccination benchmarks and what activities they’re comfortable participating in.
September 25: Changing recommendations for boosters lead to confusion for the vaccinated and their doctors (Washington Post)
Jay Winsten, director of the Initiative on Communication Strategies for Public Health, discussed the confusion that has resulted from swiftly changing recommendations on COVID-19 boosters, and said that communications experts should have a “seat at the table” when it comes to making such crucial public health decisions.
September 24: Are We Getting COVID Testing All Wrong? (Slate’s What Next: TBD podcast)
Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, discussed the benefits of rapid COVID-19 tests, why the U.S. doesn’t have enough of them, and what should be done to fix the problem.
September 22: Is The Worst Over? Modelers Predict A Steady Decline In COVID Cases Through March (NPR’s All Things Considered)
A new analysis from researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the Delta surge appears to be peaking in the U.S., and that cases and deaths will likely decline through the spring without a significant winter surge. The scenario is based on the assumption that children will get vaccinated and that no super-spreading variant will emerge. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, who was not involved in the analysis, said that there is a fair amount of uncertainty in the models. He agreed that, overall, the pandemic will be “comparatively under control by March,” but added that “there could be a number of bumps in the road.”
September 21: De Blasio has still set up NYC kids for needless school closures (New York Post)
This opinion piece urged that kids in New York City be allowed to remain in school even if positive COVID-19 cases emerge at their schools, and called for the use of daily tests to ensure that those who continue to attend are not infectious. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was quoted on this “test-to-stay” policy.
September 21: 4 leading public-health experts describe what it would take for them to fully return to normal life (Insider)
Four public health experts said that it will probably be next year before they’re comfortable returning to a pre-pandemic lifestyle including traveling internationally, throwing parties, or attending conferences. Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow and a research associate in the Department of Biostatistics, said she will avoid things like indoor concerts and sports events until she’s confident that there are ample hospital beds in the Northeast, where she lives. She added that she expects masks to become part of her “new normal” on planes and in healthcare facilities.
September 21: Where Are the Tests? (New York Times)
Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, who has long advocated for more rapid COVID-19 tests in the U.S., noted that the tests can identify roughly 98% of cases in which a person is infectious. “Testing is how we end this pandemic without disrupting society,” he said.
September 20: COVID-19 death toll in US surpasses 1918 pandemic deaths; experts say it didn’t have to happen (Boston Globe)
Public health experts lamented the huge death toll of the pandemic in the U.S. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and state public health commissioner, noted that the nation has “been woefully ineffective in mounting a robust public health response.” He called for increased public health funding, noting that “our paltry national investments in public health remain shameful.”
September 20: The US death toll from Covid-19 just surpassed that of the 1918 flu pandemic (CNN)
Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, was among experts discussing the huge death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic: 675,000. Lessons that could have been learned from the 1918 pandemic, including not ditching safety precautions too early, not getting a false sense of security among the young and healthy, and not relying on unproven treatments, were unheeded, Kissler said. “A lot of the mistakes that we definitely fell into in 1918, we hoped we wouldn’t fall into in 2020,” he said. “We did.” He noted that the rapid spread of misinformation has been a big disadvantage during the current pandemic.
September 20: Good Ventilation Prevents COVID-19 Spread — Here’s What You Should Ask Your Workplace (WBUR)
Bringing in outdoor air, upgrading ventilation systems, and using portable air cleaners with HEPA filters can all make indoor spaces safer during the pandemic, according to Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. He noted that using a CO2 monitor can help shed light on the amount of outdoor air that’s coming into a building.
September 19: COVID-19 vaccination inequities in Massachusetts (Ophthalmology Times)
A study led by Scott Dryden-Peterson, research associate in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, found structural disparities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Massachusetts. Communities with more socioeconomic vulnerability and larger proportions of Black and Latinx individuals had disproportionately lower vaccine coverage compared with their infection risk, the study found.
September 19: To support physicians’ mental health, we need a systemic overhaul (The Hill)
This opinion piece, co-authored by Dean Michelle Williams, Corey Feist of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation, and Shekhar Saxena, professor of the practice of global mental health, called for federal, state, and local governments, as well as hospitals, to take action to address mental health issues among physicians that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The article cited the high rate of burnout among physicians and noted that doctors in the U.S. die by suicide at twice the rate of the general population.
September 18: ‘You can’t miss this message.’ Roxbury hosts Boston Vaccine Day in an effort to promote shots against COVID-19 (Boston Globe)
Doctoral student Keona Wynne, lead organizer for Boston Vaccine Day, held September 18 in Roxbury, said the event was designed to highlight the “positivity of vaccination” against COVID-19.
September 17: Newsletter: Coronavirus Today: Rethinking vaccine protection (Los Angeles Times)
Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, and a member of the FDA advisory panel that recently recommended against providing COVID-19 booster shots to adults aged 16-65, commented on the panel’s decision.
September 17: FDA panel recommends Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster for 65 and older, but not for the general public (Market Watch)
Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, and a member of the FDA advisory panel that recently recommended against providing COVID-19 booster shots to adults aged 16-65, was quoted.
September 16: Health Officials Wonder Why Biden’s Mandate Didn’t Also Require Vaccination To Travel (NPR’s All Things Considered)
Experts and policymakers have been debating whether U.S. air and rail travelers should be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Under a new mandate from President Biden, health care workers, federal government employees, and people working at companies with more than 100 employees must be vaccinated—but the mandate didn’t extend to travelers. Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, noted that implementing a vaccine mandate for travelers faces hurdles because there’s no system currently in place to verify people’s vaccination status. But he thinks that mandates for travelers may come soon. “I think people are COVID fatigued and they’re looking for bold, courageous leadership that will move us out of the crisis,” he said.
September 16: Harvard Experts Outline Critical Steps for School Reopenings at HGSE Event (Harvard Crimson)
Harvard Chan School experts, including Dean Michelle Williams; Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program; and Natalia Linos, executive director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, spoke at a recent panel on how schools can reopen safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
September 16: Covid gives us a chance to fix indoor air pollution forever (Wired UK)
Experts hope that the trend of ensuring better ventilation indoors to reduce the spread of the coronavirus will continue beyond the pandemic, since poor indoor air quality has detrimental effects on health and productivity. “It feels like the Great Awakening,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “Finally, the world has woken up to the importance of healthy buildings.”
September 15: Harvard Health Expert Says America’s Vague And Conflicting Pandemic Goals Muddy Our Path Out (WGBH)
In an interview on Boston Public Radio, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, argued that the U.S. should set better goals as it navigates the pandemic. Regarding schooling, for example, he said that policymakers need to decide whether their aim is to ensure zero transmission of COVID-19 in schools or simply to keep students and educators in classrooms safely.
September 15: COVID-19 vaccine expert not as concerned about full stadiums as people not getting shots (USA Today)
Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, said that she’s less worried about people being exposed to COVID-19 in crowded stadiums than she is about young people not being vaccinated. “If you have a stadium full of people and many of them are vaccinated, they will be protected, and others will be protected, from serious illness,” said Corbett, one of the creators of the Moderna vaccine. “But … I’m not as concerned about stadiums as I am about things like young people who fail to take vaccination seriously.” She said that COVID-19 is “here to stay” and is likely to become a virus more like the flu. “Would you close a stadium for the flu?” she asked.
September 15: The Changing Virus (Spiegel International)
Experts discussed the possible emergence of coronavirus variants that are more dangerous than Delta. “This virus keeps surprising us,” noted Mary Bushman, postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “No one expected such large jumps in contagiousness.” If a more contagious variant emerges, only very strict containment measures and a rapid vaccination campaign could mitigate its spread, she said. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that new virus variants could be either more or less dangerous than Delta.
September 14: An Epidemiologist Says At-Home Testing Is Key To Stopping COVID (NPR’s All Things Considered )
Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, who has long advocated for the wide availability of rapid COVID-19 tests, said that he is supportive of President Biden’s action plan to increase the accessibility and availability of such tests, but is worried about shortages. He said that the Biden plan will help push companies to sell more rapid tests in the U.S. market, and recommended that the tests be defined as public health tools instead of medical devices to enable their swift authorization by regulatory agencies.
September 14: Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Risks Overwhelming U.S. Testing Capacity (Bloomberg)
Experts expressed concern that the U.S won’t have enough COVID-19 tests to handle the Biden’s administration’s new workplace measures to contain the spread of the virus. Under the new regulation, workers at companies with 100 or more employees will have to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. “We’re going to get logjammed,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology. “We’re going to have major problems. We’re not going to have the production capacity.”
September 14: What epidemiologists have learned about the coronavirus 18 months into the pandemic (El País)
One of the lessons from the coronavirus pandemic is that public health systems need to be improved, according to experts who gathered at a recent meeting in Spain. Miguel Hernán, Kolokotrones Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, noted that, in Spain, one of the shortcomings during the pandemic was the lack of a large public health agency led by respected scientists and independently providing recommendations to politicians.
September 14: Boston Vaccine Day is an inoculation celebration (Boston Globe)
Keona Wynne, a doctoral student and senior project manager of Boston Vaccine Day, said that the September 18 event will include festivities as well as “culturally relevant vaccine education” and free onsite vaccinations.
September 14: Good Morning, Buffalo: Employers try to make workers feel at home upon return to office (The Buffalo News)
Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, quoted
September 14: Unwilling to Wait for Approval, Some Healthy Americans Seek Booster Shots (New York Times)
Shifting and sometimes confusing guidance on coronavirus-related issues has led some in the U.S. to decide to get COVID-19 booster shots before they’ve been widely approved. “This is a result of poor risk communication and lack of political and scientific transparency over the last 18 months,” said Rachael Piltch-Loeb, a researcher and fellow in public health emergency preparedness and response. “It is also a reflection of people feeling a total lack of control of what is happening in society at this point. One of the things that they can do to protect themselves is to take science into their own hands.”
September 13: The Crime of Vaccine Stockpiling (Harvard Crimson)
In this op-ed, master’s student Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne wrote, “It is grotesquely unethical that rich countries continue to procure supplies to commence large-scale booster campaigns for already-vaccinated, healthy adults, while medically vulnerable people and frontline healthcare workers contract and die from Covid-19 in large numbers in the rest of the world.”
September 13: The ReidOut, 9/13/21 (MSNBC)
Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, discussed vaccine mandates. “We hit the limit of the voluntary approach,” he said. “We’ve tried the hand-holding, we’ve tried cajoling, we’ve tried the beer and the lotteries. It’s not working. We’ve reached the limit. And to pull this last group across the line, we have to put in these mandates.”
September 12: Covid Q&A: How Vulnerable Are Kids? (Bloomberg)
Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that although children under 12—who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated—are getting infected with COVID-19 during the current Delta wave, they are much less likely than adults to wind up in the hospital or to die. She said it’s crucial to mitigate risk through methods such as distancing and mask wearing.
September 12: Is it ethical to travel right now? Experts on flying in the age of Delta (The Guardian)
Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, advised minimizing risk to yourself and others if you decide to fly during the Delta surge. Noting that traveling to an area of low vaccination is inherently risky, he said, “While you can’t control the risk to you from the surrounding community, you can control the risk to yourself and the risk to others by ensuring you are vaccinated, wearing masks in appropriate venues, not traveling when symptomatic or if you have a recent exposure, and getting tested frequently with antigen tests.”
September 12: I Got A ‘Mild’ Breakthrough Case. Here’s What I Wish I’d Known (NPR Health Shots)
It’s unclear what’s most responsible for the recent rise in breakthrough COVID-19 infections—the Delta variant, waning immunity in some people, or people dropping public health precautions such as masking. Said Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, “We don’t have good evidence of what’s the cause, but we do know all of these things coming together are associated with more breakthroughs.”
September 11: Mass. towns with high infection numbers have fewer young people inoculated, raising concerns as students start school (Boston Globe)
Vaccination rates are alarmingly low among teens in many of the Massachusetts cities and towns hardest hit by the coronavirus, according to an analysis by Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences. “If we don’t get this right, how are we going to do it with the 5- to 11-year-olds when they are authorized for a vaccine?” asked Geller.
September 10: The U.S. Needs an Operation Warp Speed for Rapid COVID-19 Testing (TIME Magazine)
The nation needs a comprehensive national rapid testing plan to complement its efforts to boost vaccinations, according to this op-ed by Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, and Stephen Phillips of the COVID Collaborative. They wrote, “Inexpensive, easy, fast and accurate at-home tests provide actionable results in minutes, not days. They can be used in or out of the home to provide real-time information on whether someone is infectious. If I’m negative, I go to school; I go to the family birthday party; I go to work. If I’m positive, I stay home and isolate. Individuals, families, parents of schoolchildren, employees, diners—virtually everyone—can markedly increase physical safety and mental well-being by having access to rapid tests. It is a pandemic game-changer.”
September 10: Federal Research Bolsters the Case for Vaccine Mandates (New York Times)
New studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that unvaccinated Americans are 11 times as likely as vaccinated people to die of COVID-19, 4.5 times as likely to become infected, and 10 times as likely to be hospitalized. Many experts think that new federal vaccine mandates are needed to get more people inoculated, although William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he was skeptical that mandates would be successful in getting millions more vaccinated. “My question would be whether this actually makes people get vaccinated, or just increases the political heat around it,” he said.
September 10: Will vaccine mandates slow the pandemic? Yes, scientists say — but not immediately. (New York Times)
New federal vaccine mandates should help reduce the surge in COVID-19 cases, but the results of additional immunizations will take weeks to make an impact, say experts. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that the emphasis on vaccination may de-emphasize the importance of masking and testing in controlling the pandemic. “It’s a lot quicker to put on a mask than it is to get a bunch of people vaccinated,” he said.
September 9: As Overburdened Hospitals Ration Care, Should Vaccinated Patients Get Priority? (WBUR’s Here & Now)
Daniel Wikler, Mary B. Saltonstall Professor of Population Ethics and Professor of Ethics and Population Health, was interviewed about the ethics of prioritizing vaccinated patients over those who are unvaccinated when hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
September 9: Biden Asks OSHA to Order Vaccine Mandates at Large Employers (New York Times)
New federal safety regulations call for businesses with more than 100 workers to require COVID-19 vaccinations. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, called the approach “necessary and needed,” noting that “the voluntary approach has hit its limit.”
September 9: Qantas becomes one of the first airlines to require that international passengers be vaccinated. (New York Times)
Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, said he hoped that other airlines follow the lead of Qantas, which will require that all passengers on international flights be vaccinated against the coronavirus when it restarts worldwide operations in December. “I think this would be a bold and courageous step in the right direction,” he said.
September 9: Does Your Child Have a Cold or COVID-19? (Parents)
The best way to tell whether your child has COVID-19 or a regular cold is to get them tested, according to experts. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, noted that antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, but they’re also less likely to return a “false positive” and they’re very good at identifying infectious people who can transmit COVID-19 to others.
September 9: Least Vaccinated States Lead Spike in Children’s Cases, Leaving Some Hospitals Stretched (New York Times)
Experts say that there are many steps people can take to prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations among children, which are currently on the rise. “What really protects children are the interventions directed at the rest of society,” said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.
September 8: Japan’s Political Hesitancy Created a Sad Summer Olympics (Weatherhead Center for International Affairs Blog)
Michael Reich, Taro Takemi Professor of International Health Policy, Emeritus, co-authored this article exploring the slow rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Japan, which resulted in a summer Olympics in Tokyo without spectators.
September 8: Covid Zero Is No Longer Working for Australia (New York Times)
Edward Cliff, a hematology doctor in Melbourne and an MPH student at Harvard Chan School, co-authored this opinion piece about Australia’s struggle with rising cases of COVID-19 driven by the Delta variant.
September 8: Making sense of Covid data before the next crisis (Politico)
Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, discussed his new role at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the director of science for a new forecasting center that aims to track disease spread and tackle other public health challenges.
September 8: ARE YOU READY FOR SOME … COVID? (Politico)
Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, quoted
September 7: As experts debate boosters, vaccinated people are calling their own shots (Washington Post)
For some groups of people, such as those who are immunocompromised, COVID-19 booster shots may be a reasonable option, “but for younger people, it’s extraordinarily strange,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “If you have somebody who is 85 percent protected from hospitalization and increase that to 90 percent, that’s not actually a large benefit.”
September 7: Here’s who gets breakthrough COVID cases in Mass. (Boston Globe)
Most breakthrough COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Massachusetts have been among elderly people or those with underlying conditions, according to state data. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and state public health commissioner, said that policymakers and the general public should prioritize extra care and vigilance for these vulnerable groups.
September 6: Life expectancy depends on where you call home (Boston Globe)
In this op-ed, Dean Michelle Williams discusses the social determinants of health that lead to dramatically different life expectancies in different neighborhoods.
September 5: Epidemiologist Weighs In On The Current State Of The COVID-19 Pandemic (NPR)
William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, talks about the Delta surge, vaccination levels, and how to protect kids from COVID-19 as they head back to school.
September 4: Rapid Covid tests are more accurate than we think, epidemiologist says (Evening Standard)
In this article, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, explained that COVID-19 rapid tests are very accurate at detecting infectious people.
September 4: This COVID-19 treatment works, but how to get it? Hospitals are sprinting to keep up with demand (Boston Globe)
Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and state public health commissioner, explained that vaccinations and monoclonal antibodies are complementary strategies for battling COVID-19. “Monoclonal antibodies prevent those with high risk or early disease from getting sicker, while vaccination prevents people from getting disease in the first place,” he said.
September 3: Biden’s Controversial COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Plan (FactCheck.org)
Some experts have criticized a Biden administration plan to give COVID-19 booster shots, saying it’s not yet clear that the shots are needed, that much of the world hasn’t even received first shots, and that the messaging around the shots could increase distrust of the vaccines. “For those who think [the vaccine is] either ineffective, experimental, or doesn’t work, the idea that there would already need to be a booster—they they’re kind of changing information around the vaccine—could certainly lead to an increased reticence about it,” said Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow.
September 3: Don’t let delta disrupt learning, expert says (Harvard Gazette)
Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, urges masking and other safety measures to support in-person school.
September 2: “The average hospital stay for a case of COVID-19 costs about $17,064. The vaccine is free.” (Politifact)
A recent claim by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.—that the average hospital stay for a case of COVID-19 costs about $17,064—is in line with several credible estimates, according to this article. But experts noted that exactly how much a person will pay depends on multiple factors, such as what type of health insurance plan they have. Ellen Meara, professor of health economics and policy, noted that people with high-deductible plans and Medicare-insured individuals can face high out-of-pocket costs—often in the thousands of dollars—due to cost sharing.
September 1: In Defense of the At-Home Rapid Test (WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show)
In this radio interview, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, talked about how schools are preparing to test students, the science on boosters and who gets them, and other COVID-19 news.
September 1: Millions Of People Are Missing From CDC COVID Data As States Fail To Report (NPR’s All Things Considered)
Detailed data on COVID-19 cases across the U.S. is incomplete in many states. “That is ludicrous. It is shameful. It is wrong,” said Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology. “You need good data to do proper planning, to understand what the risk is, how the risk is changing. And you need that to be real data that are publicly available and accessible.”
September 1: How does the delta variant affect children? Could be more severe in kids, Harvard expert says (Boston Herald)
The delta variant could be more contagious and severe in children. “There’s every reason to believe that (the delta variant) is more contagious to children and from children than the older variants, and that means that at a societal level, we’re seeing higher numbers of cases in all age groups, including in children,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. He added that children are still much less likely to get severe coronavirus compared to adults. But as schools reopen and the weather gets colder, cases are expected to increase.
September 1: When Will the Delta Surge End? (New York Times)
Experts have a wide variety of opinions on how the Delta variant surge may play out in the U.S. in the coming months. Some forecasts predict that cases will rise in the early weeks of September, but many foresee the opposite. Epidemiologists say that Delta’s path will be influenced by vaccination rates, social behaviors, the weather, and various levels of precautions. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said, “The nature of Delta transmission mean that the cases are going to go up in a lot of places at around the same time, but the consequence will be much, much worse in terms of absolute numbers in places with less vaccination.” He added that the reopening of schools and offices would increase cases.
September 1: Genome-Wide Association Methodology Accurately Flags Covid-19 Gamma Variant, HSPH Research Shows (The Crimson)
Researchers found that a longstanding methodology used to associate human genetic variations with disease risk can help flag more deadly or contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2. “Historically, the genome-wide association analyses have looked at whether or not an individual’s genetic makeup can predict disease in that individual,” Nan Laird, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Public Health, Emerita said. “What we’re doing here is quite different because we’re asking whether or not mutations in the virus can affect the course of the disease in the individual.”
September 1: A sound bite reexamined: ‘Pandemic of the unvaccinated’ (ABC News)
Some experts are concerned about government officials’ use of the phrase “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, said the phrase is “provocative,” adding, “The unvaccinated have an opposition toward Washington, and the more you stir the opposition, the more it convinces them ‘I’m not going to give in to those people.’”
September 1: COVID-19 in children: What to know to about the delta variant’s impact on kids (ABC 7 News)
Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, said that with high community transmission of the Delta variant, children will be infected, some with severe cases. He said that disease spread is most likely to occur in homes and at gatherings. Making vaccines available in schools for 12- to 17-year-olds will increase uptake, he said. And to protect very young children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, he advised that everyone coming into contact with them should be masked and vaccinated.
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