The latest on the coronavirus

For the Harvard Chan community: Find the latest updates, guidance, useful information, and resources about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) here.

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 in which they offer comments and context:

2022

June 30: Still testing positive after day 10? How to decide when to end your COVID isolation (NPR)

Evidence is unclear as to whether people who continue to test positive on rapid COVID antigen tests even after they feel better, and after five or more days, are still infectious, according to experts. James Hay, postdoctoral research fellow, said that while there’s a lot of variation across studies, he thinks the overall finding suggests that “if you’re antigen positive, then you’re quite likely to be infectious.”

June 28: Biden Claims Too Much Credit for Decline in COVID-19 Deaths (FactCheck.org)

Although some Biden administration policies—including promoting vaccination, mask-wearing, and testing—have helped bring down the number of COVID deaths, most of the decline has been due to factors beyond the president’s control, according to experts. “The decline can largely be attributed to the level of immunity in the population,” said Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow. “Vaccine uptake has been a huge contributing factor to the decline, as those who are vaccinated are far less likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID. Natural immunity has likely played a role as well though the quantification of this is less clear.”

June 27: US grapples with whether to modify COVID vaccine for fall (AP)

Updating COVID boosters “is more likely to be helpful” than simply providing additional doses of the current COVID vaccines, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

June 25: Already Had COVID? Here’s Where You Could Catch it Again (Eat This, Not That)

Indoor gyms, bars, offices, nursing and retirement homes, and crowded indoor events are all likely places where people can get reinfected with COVID, given that new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are circulating. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was quoted.

June 25: COVID-19 in North Korea (The Lancet)

North Korea is likely experiencing a huge COVID-19 outbreak, according to experts, and it’s likely that much of the population is unvaccinated. “Controlling omicron in the absence of vaccination is a ghastly task,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “We can expect a very rapid surge.” He estimated that North Korea could see around 50,000 deaths, and several times that many hospitalizations.

June 24: Does Your A/C Spread COVID? We Asked an Expert (Eat This, Not That)

Being indoors with other people is what propels the spread of COVID-19—not air conditioning, according to Edward Nardell, professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “It is not the air conditioner that is doing anything particularly,” he said. “It is the fact that you are indoors, you are not socially distancing and you are rebreathing the air that people have just exhaled.” Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was also quoted on the importance of ventilation.

June 23: Public-Health Messaging in a Pandemic (Harvard Magazine)

Experts at a June 21 panel spoke about a range of pandemic-related issues—including a disconnect between the public perception of what occurred over the past two years and what actually occurred. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that headlines highlighting “death tolls” may have made people think that public health measures were ineffective—but that was not the case. “It can feel as if everything is hopeless, that people stayed home and people got all these shots, and still, over a million Americans died,” he said. “Let me be blunt: it could easily be far, far more.”

June 22: Covid Vaccines Slowly Roll Out for Children Under 5 (New York Times)

COVID vaccines are now available for children under age 5, but polling suggests that most parents of younger children are hesitant about getting access to the shots quickly. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that even if uptake of the vaccines is limited, he thinks that most restrictions on young children should be lifted, given their low risk. He recommended that child-care centers and schools protect students and staff by improving ventilation and filtration.

June 21: Ventilation is crucial, but until recently it took a backseat to other covid measures (Washington Post)

Given the fact that COVID-19 spreads though tiny aerosol droplets, improving ventilation in buildings is key to curbing transmission. “We need building engineers to sit alongside the MD’s and the epidemiologists when they do a cluster investigation and say, ‘Let’s evaluate what’s happening with ventilation and filtration,’” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.

June 18: “We Have to Get Out of This Phase”: Ashish Jha on the Future of the Pandemic (The New Yorker)

In a wide-ranging interview, Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, adjunct professor of global health at Harvard Chan School, and the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, discussed the future of COVID, the importance of good public health communication (especially during a pandemic), the need to develop a strategy to protect immunocompromised people, the mysteries of long COVID, vaccines for young children, and the importance of supporting global vaccination programs.

June 17: W.T.O. countries agree to a limited relaxing of patent protections on coronavirus vaccines. (New York Times)

Experts say that the easing of intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines is arriving too late and is too limited in scope to significantly affect global vaccine supply. Melissa Barber, a doctoral candidate in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Global Health and Population, was one of the experts quoted.

June 17: Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5: What to know about future coronavirus variants (TODAY)

Mutations, particularly in the coronavirus’ spike protein, may be allowing viral variants to evade immune protection. In the case of BA.2.12.1—responsible for roughly 64% of all U.S. COVID-19 cases as of June 11—these mutations are “believed to help it sidestep some of the antibodies that have been generated by previous infections or vaccines,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

June 14: When Covid Came for Provincetown (WIRED)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, called Provincetown’s response to a COVID-19 outbreak in July 2021 “a huge success story.” He added, “It should have been a message. We can avoid large outbreaks, if we want to.” The article outlined how contact tracing, data analysis, and COVID restrictions such as masking helped contain the outbreak.

June 13: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett Helped Create the Covid Vaccine (Oprah Daily)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, said that her new laboratory will focus on the development of “better, broader vaccines and new treatments.” She said the lab is currently working with other researchers on universal coronavirus vaccines that would be able to protect against many coronaviruses with one shot.

June 13: COVID-19 Deadlier During Pregnancy, African Study Says (Voice of America)

Pregnant women who were hospitalized in sub-Saharan Africa were five times more likely to die in the hospital if they tested positive for the coronavirus, a study found. And being pregnant doubled the odds that a woman admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 would die. Pregnant women with COVID-19 were also at higher risk of serious complications requiring intensive care. Making COVID vaccines more accessible to pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa could help, said experts. Ana Langer, professor of the practice of public health and coordinator of the Women and Health Initiative, emphasized that the vaccines have been shown to be safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding women.

June 12: White House faces uphill challenge getting kids under 5 vaccinated (The Hill)

One reason parents may be reluctant to get their young children vaccinated for COVID is that there’s been a long gap between the initial rollout of vaccines—when there was a lot of initial excitement about them—and the expected authorization of kids’ shots, according to Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow.

June 10: Test to Return to the U.S. by Air Will Be Dropped (New York Times)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

June 10: A negative COVID test has never been so meaningless (The Atlantic)

In recent months, many people have tested negative for three, four, even five or more days in a row, then go on to learn that they do have COVID. Said Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, “If you’re turning symptomatic, assume you’re infectious”—with something, even if it turns out not to be SARS-CoV-2.

June 8: A Bellwether for COVID-19 (Harvard Medical School)

Screening programs at Boston-area universities helped show how quickly the Omicron variant of the coronavirus overtook the Delta variant in the fall of 2021. Said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology and a co-author of the study, “[Omicron] moved so fast that we’d have missed a lot of cases if it weren’t for these screening programs run by colleges, but with them we were able to document the takeover.”

June 8: POLITICO-Harvard poll: Majority of Americans support more Covid aid for the uninsured (Politico)

Most Americans strongly believe that the federal government should continue to cover costs for COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and treatment for people who lack health insurance, according to a new poll. Said pollster Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, “If there were headlines that you can’t get antivirals in Nebraska, I wouldn’t want to be the one who said that I was against funding. This could bite back anybody.”

June 7: Why are boosted Americans testing positive for COVID more than those without extra shot? (McClatchy DC)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, offered one possible reason why COVID case rates have been higher among boosted individuals than among those vaccinated without a booster. “The wide availability of at-home tests has substantially muddied the waters, because these do not necessarily show up in official figures,” he said. “Individuals receiving boosters may be more likely to have their cases counted,” because “just in being boosted, they are displaying ‘health seeking’ behavior” and “they are more likely to have contact with healthcare and get a test that ends up in official stats.”

June 7: FDA advisers back Novavax’s latecomer COVID-19 vaccine (BioPharma Dive)

Eric Rubin, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School and a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, quoted.

June 6: Severe Covid cases more likely in places with high air pollution, study finds (Independent)

Aaron Bernstein, interim director of Harvard Chan School’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), quoted.

June 6: Coronavirus Briefing: The Summer Outlook (New York Times)

The overall COVID situation in the U.S. is likely to improve over the summer, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology—although the trend could be temporary. “Things are likely to be somewhat worse, especially in the fall and winter,” he said.

June 6: State has a lot more to do to keep students and educators safe from COVID (Boston Globe)

According to this op-ed co-authored by Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences, students in Massachusetts lost 1.5 million class days, parents lost 1 million work days, and educators and staff lost more than a quarter of a million work days during the 2021-22 school year because of COVID. To deal with the virus now and in the future, the authors recommended that the state expand wastewater surveillance, make rapid antigen tests available to students and families, promote the use of masks, and improve vaccine uptake.

June 1: There will be another pandemic, infectious disease experts say. Here are 6 ways we can prepare for it (CNN Health)

Among the steps that should be taken to prepare for the next pandemic is to increase public health funding, say experts. “It’s hard, especially from a funding perspective, to convince people with big pocketbooks … to say, ‘Maybe it might happen, maybe it won’t, but we do need to put billions of dollars in that arena,’” said Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases. “Because of that, oftentimes a lot of the research dollars and a lot of the research mental capacity goes to the side of treatments. We want to be able to really shift that way of thinking.”

May 31: State to drop funding for school COVID testing (GBH)

Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences, was among experts criticizing Massachusetts’ decision to end COVID-19 testing programs at schools in the fall. “With the unremitting omicron surge and no signs of it letting up, we need more safeguards and protections rather than fewer ones,” he said.

May 31: Welcome to tepid vax summer (Politico)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

May 30: An early warning system for emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants (Nature Medicine)

Simani Gaseitsiwe and Sikhulile Moyo, both research associates in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, were among the co-authors of a commentary calling for strengthened surveillance and continued monitoring of SARS-CoV-2, given the evolving virus and the uncertainty of predicting the trajectory of the pandemic.

May 29: Can I stop isolating if I’m still testing positive for the virus? (New York Times)

For most people infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, viral levels peak less than five days after infection. But some continue to test positive for the virus for 10, 12, or even 14 days. However, it’s not clear if continuing to test positive means you’re still infectious. Said Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, “Some people may not be infectious at the end of their course even if still antigen-positive, whereas others may be infectious even if antigen-negative.”

May 28: ‘Mild’ Omicron variant was highly lethal, study finds (Boston Globe)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that he was “not even slightly” surprised by the high number of deaths during Omicron. “I am relieved it wasn’t worse,” he said. “Omicron probably is somewhat less serious than Delta per infection, but once you have so many infections, that more than makes up for it.”

May 25: Which SARS-CoV-2 Variant Will Cause the Next Wave? An AI Tool Predicts (Gene Engineering News)

Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases, discussed a machine learning model that can predict which SARS-CoV-2 viral variants are likely to cause surges in COVID-19 cases and that can help identify vaccine targets. The model was developed by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard—where Sabeti is a member—and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

May 24: Botswana: Dr Sikhulile Moyo Named to Time’s Annual Time100 List of the 100 Most Influential People in the World (All Africa)

Article features Sikhulile Moyo, director of the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) lab and a research associate in immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, who helped alert the world about the existence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

May 23: How Rapid Reinfection Has Changed the Covid Fight (The New Republic)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and senior scientist at the CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA), quoted.

May 23: Carbon-Dioxide Monitors Can Help Track Covid Risk (Bloomberg)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, quoted.

May 21: Don’t let latest COVID surge overshadow progress, says Hanage (Harvard Gazette)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed the current COVID surge and the importance of continuing to mask and test to minimize disease spread, but pointed out that society is in “a far better place” than early in the pandemic.

May 20: Less deadly than delta? In some states, omicron caused more deaths (NBC News)

The omicron variant of the coronavirus was originally thought to be less severe than the delta variant, although new research suggests that may not necessarily be the case. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed how vaccination rates, mitigation measures, and population immunity likely all played a role in the impact of omicron—along with its extreme contagiousness.

May 20: A look at where we are in the pandemic — and where we’re headed (WBUR’s Morning Edition)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed the coronavirus variant BA2.12.1 that’s driving a surge in COVID-19 cases, the severity of the virus, and its likely seasonality going forward. He noted that “this is something we’re going to be fighting with for a hell of a long time.”

May 20: COVID-19: How to cope with ‘pandemilash’ amid lifting measures – opinion (Jerusalem Post)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

May 19: Discover Science podcast: Kizzmekia Corbett on going where you are loved (Discover Science podcast)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, who was scientific lead in the development of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, discussed her research and work, the importance of good mentorship, and finding her place in science.

May 19: N. Korea won’t accept help to stave off coronavirus crisis, experts fear (Washington Post)

North Korea, with an unvaccinated population and limited health care capacity, could face thousands of preventable deaths from its first wave of COVID. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that an out-of-control outbreak of the BA.2 subvariant of omicron now spreading in the country could lead to a death toll of roughly 125,000.

May 19: The government’s giving away more rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests. Here’s what you need to know. (Boston Globe)

Americans are now able to order a third round of free COVID tests from the government. Phyllis Kanki, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, offered some advice on how to use the tests. She said that if you have COVID symptoms “you should rapid test. And if you’re negative, you should test again the next day.” If the test is negative and you still have symptoms, you should try more rapid tests or consider a PCR test.

May 18: What you need to know about the covid crisis hitting North Korea (Washington Post)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

May 17: In wave after deadly wave, COVID has claimed 1 million lives in the U.S.(NPR)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

May 17: Americans Return to the Office With Willingness and Trepidation (VOA News)

Employees who have worked remotely during the pandemic have mixed feelings about returning to in-person work, according to experts. Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, noted that some find it exhausting. “At first, returning to the office can be really draining because you haven’t seen the people you work with in person for a long time,” she said. “Psychologically and emotionally, the transition is not comfortable but should eventually become more comfortable as time goes on.”

May 16: How Many Of America’s One Million COVID Deaths Were Preventable? (NPR’s Morning Edition)

New research from Brown University suggests that 320,000 lives could have been saved in the U.S. if more people had gotten COVID vaccinations. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said, “It’s shocking to me that so many people have accepted a million dead. This is not a trivial number. That’s a million human beings. And the fact that we have taken this appalling toll and folks are so keen to move on from it and not examine how we got there is deeply depressing.”

May 6: You can now get free rapid COVID tests at a pharmacy by showing your insurance card (WGBH)

Rapid COVID tests are now easily available for free at pharmacies. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that he finds rapid tests most useful if he’s planning to visit someone at high risk for severe COVID complications, if he has symptoms like a cough, or if he’s been exposed to someone who had COVID. “The nice thing about rapid antigen tests is that they tell me within minutes a very good picture of whether or not I am a risk of infection to people around me,” he said. “And to me, that’s hugely valuable.”

May 6: Omicron’s befuddling evolution (Politico)

COVID now has variants and subvariants, making it hard to keep track of all of them. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that he expects cases to tick up in the coming months as the virus continues to evolve and immunity wanes from vaccines and prior infections.

May 3: What the latest omicron subvariants mean for reinfection risk (NBC News)

Even though many people in the U.S. have a high level of immunity from COVID from a combination of vaccinations, boosters, and prior infection, waning immunity and new omicron subvariants can change a person’s ability to fight off infections—which means that reinfection is possible and perhaps even likely, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He noted that the risk of serious illness will vary among those who can get infected.

May 3: More uniformly infectious, more treatable, more genetically predictable: How coronavirus is getting closer to flu (STAT)

SARS-CoV-2 may become more predictable, like seasonal flu, according to experts—although it’s still capable of causing dangerous surges around the world. “Nobody knows what this virus is going to do next,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “The pandemic will be done but not in a way that most people think of as done.”

May 2: Most Americans have now had Covid-19 — but experts are predicting the next surge (CNN)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

April 29: The 3 pandemic metrics that could tell us what’s next (Vox)

Hospital data, new data on emerging variants, and data on long COVID are three metrics that experts say they’re watching to shed light on what’s happening now with the pandemic and what’s likely to happen in the future. Commenting on long COVID, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said, “We need a much better study of long COVID. It is real and will likely lead to a sustained cost in terms of chronic illness for a large number of people, but how large that number is remains uncertain.”

April 27: Covid’s circling the White House. What are the risks to someone like Biden? (STAT)

Although age remains a risk factor with COVID, the threat of grave illness is much lower than it used to be because of vaccines and treatments, according to experts. Commenting on the risk faced by President Biden, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said, “The president is vaccinated, boosted, and will be receiving very good medical care. He’s also relatively healthy. Under the circumstances, it’s about as good as you can get.”

April 27: Another rare virus puzzle: They got sick, got treated, got covid again (Washington Post)

Some people with COVID who take the antiviral drug Paxlovid feel better and test negative, but after a few days feel worse and test positive again. Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that viral loads can bounce around, but said it’s “exceptionally uncommon” for the viral load to plunge for a few days to a level suggesting they are negative, then go up again.

April 26: The Coronavirus Has Infected More Than Half of Americans, the C.D.C. Reports (New York Times)

One consequence of so many Americans having been infected with the coronavirus means that there could be many cases of long COVID to contend with, according to experts. “The long-term impacts on health care are not clear but certainly worth taking seriously, as a fraction of people will be struggling for a long time with the consequences,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

April 26: We’re Fighting Covid With Faulty Data (Bloomberg)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was one of several experts quoted in this article about how a lack of accurate data about COVID cases and vaccinations hampers the U.S. pandemic response.

April 25: Covid-19 data reporting is becoming less frequent, making trends harder to track (CNN)

Some experts worry that states’ decisions to scale back on reporting COVID-19 statistics—such as reporting new cases weekly instead of daily—will hinder efforts to fight the virus. “Things are not stable right now,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “Even if I don’t reckon we are going to see [another] large surge, weekly reporting means that if I am wrong, we would learn about it later and so be able to do less about it.”

April 21: As mask mandates disappear, COVID is on the rise in Massachusetts (WGBH)

Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, was among Massachusetts public health experts expressing concern about mask requirements being dropped while COVID cases rise. “We’re seeing a lot of people, even people who have been somewhat cautious, people who have been vaccinated are being caught by the disease right now,” he said. Noting that a highly transmissible form of COVID is circulating, he added, “This was the wrong time for us to lift the mask mandates on planes and on public transportation.”

April 21: How to Avoid Getting Covid in a Mostly Mask-Free World (Washington Post)

Asaf Bitton, associate professor of health care policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management and executive director of Ariadne Labs, said that one way to protect yourself from COVID as more people go maskless is to consider the ventilation and filtration of whatever setting you’re in to help you decide whether to wear a mask.

April 21: Snapshot of pandemic’s mental health impact on children (Harvard Gazette)

Young children and adolescents were among the people most negatively impacted by pandemic lockdowns, according to psychiatric epidemiologist Tamsin Ford. Ford spoke at a virtual event that was part of Harvard Chan School’s Population Mental Health Forum Series, hosted by Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology. She also noted that some kids who were already struggling with emotional issues actually seemed to do better during the pandemic.

April 21: Psychiatric Epidemiologist Tamsin Ford Talks Children’s Mental Health Amid Covid-19 (Harvard Crimson)

During the pandemic, an increase in mental health issues in children has been concentrated within particular groups, such as those who are struggling financially or who have pre-existing mental health conditions, according to psychiatric epidemiologist Tamsin Ford, who spoke at a  Population Mental Health Forum Series event.

April 20: The End of Airplane Masking Feels Momentous (The Atlantic)

A federal judge in Florida repealed the U.S. mask mandate on transportation networks, and now the Department of Justice is appealing the ruling. If the case loses on appeal, the federal government’s ability to enact public health restrictions could be limited in the future, according to Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “If something unpredictable happens next, where we need CDC to put in mandates, that authority’s in question,” he said.

April 20: Masks Aren’t Required to Fly. Should You Still Wear One? (Bloomberg)

Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, said he thinks the end of the federal mandate to wear masks on airplanes will make flying somewhat more risky. He noted that people should be careful right now because U.S. cases are edging upward and there could be a new surge with new sub-variants of omicron BA.2.

April 20: Do I still need to wear a mask? A guide to help you decide. (Washington Post)

Air on planes “is extraordinarily safe,” said Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative. But he added that proper precautionary measures, such as masks, can help. “The air system itself won’t do the job fully,” he said.

April 20: Public health experts are split on whether we still need masks on airplanes (Salon)

Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, expressed concern about the removal of the mask mandate on airplanes. One reason, he said is that “right now, a third of the population is not vaccinated, and even more are vaccinated but not boosted—so if you look at that statistic it means in a row of three people, one of those people could very well not be vaccinated.” He said that for that reason, multiple layers of protection—like masking in addition to ventilation—is just “good public health sense.”

April 20: Airlines say mask mandates aren’t needed anymore. Are filters enough to prevent COVID on airplanes? (USA Today)

Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, said that air filtration systems on planes are “remarkable” and make the air as clean as an operating room, but noted that masks provide an additional layer of protection.

April 19: Trump-appointed judge striking down CDC’s mask mandate is “an assault on public health,” says expert (Salon)

Many public health experts disagree with a recent ruling by a federal judge that the CDC’s mask mandate on public transportation was unlawful. “In my mind, the ruling itself is an assault on public health; it’s very one-sided,” said Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative. “I see this more as a political act than a real, careful assessment of public health.”

April 19: You don’t have to wear a mask on planes. Do it anyway, experts say. (Washington Post)

Although on April 18 a judge tossed out the federal requirement to wear masks on planes and other forms of transportation, experts say that people who want to protect themselves from the coronavirus should continue to wear the best masks possible, such as an N95. “On an airplane, we’re in very, very close proximity to one another,” said Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative. “So therefore, continuing to wear masks is something I’m going to do and I would recommend others to do, especially if they want to avoid getting the disease.”

April 19: The CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation has been reversed (NPR’s All Things Considered)

Even though there is good ventilation on airplanes, you still share air with the people in the few rows around you, said Edward Nardell, professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “If you’re immediately next to somebody who is highly infectious, your best protection is a mask—and a tight-fitting one at that—rather than depending on the ventilation,” he said.

April 19: Airlines May Be Done With Masks, But Covid Isn’t Done With Their Customers (Observer)

Edward Nardell, professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said it’s understandable why airlines might welcome the end of mask mandates. “I felt bad for airline agents having to fight with passengers to put a mask on and then tell them, ‘here’s a drink. You can take the mask off.’ That’s been a hole in masking on airplanes all along.”

April 19: Experts react to airlines dropping mask rules, and share how they plan to stay safe from Omicron variants while flying (Business Insider)

Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, said he’s concerned about removing the federal mask mandate for airplanes at a time when there’s a surge of the BA.2 omicron variant. He noted, “I’m flying next week. I will be wearing an N95 mask, and I’ll be wearing another mask over it, to keep it real tight.” He recommended that travelers and crew continue to wear masks.

April 19: New CDC team: A weather service to forecast what’s next in pandemic (Washington Post)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, discussed the work of the CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA), for which he serves as science director. Rebecca Kahn, a Harvard Chan School postdoc and senior scientist at CFA, was also mentioned.

April 19: Better ventilation would create a healthier workplace — but companies have to invest (NPR)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, is among a growing coalition of epidemiologists and aerosol scientists who say that improved ventilation could be a powerful tool against the coronavirus—if businesses are willing to invest the money. “The science is airtight,” he said. “The evidence is overwhelming.”

April 19: Covid hasn’t given up all its secrets. Here are 6 mysteries experts hope to unravel (STAT)

One of the mysteries about COVID that scientists hope to figure out is what future waves will look like. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that one possibility is that SARS-CoV-2 is so infectious that the U.S. never sees waves truly bottom out. If there continue to be several thousand cases each day, that means “we’re going to kind of be dealing with this at some level at all times of the year,” with “substantial ebbs and flows in different places at different times.”

April 19: See JPMorgan Chase’s big bet on the future of the office (Fast Company)

A proposed new office tower in Manhattan has been designed to high environmental standards, taking into account lessons learned from the pandemic. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, advised on building’s ventilation.

April 18: Kizzmekia Corbett on the pandemic, public service, and her path to becoming a scientist (STAT)

This Q&A featured Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, who helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine while working at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center. Asked her main takeaway from the pandemic, Corbett said, “Probably that you shouldn’t take anything for granted. That the way that we live and the way that we assume that there will be a vaccine or a therapy, or there will be something at the end of the road for us because we’ve kind of sat in this bubble of privilege—I think that the pandemic really washed a lot of structural problems ashore.”

April 15: Is herd immunity for Covid-19 still possible? (CNN)

A number of experts are doubtful that we might reach herd immunity from COVID-19—a point at which the virus fails to spread because so many people are shielded from infection, mostly through vaccination. But Barry Bloom, the Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, said that one way to get there would be to make better vaccines.

April 15: Have We Already Ruined Our Next COVID Summer? (The Atlantic)

Experts discussed the factors that could influence how COVID plays out in the coming months. Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, noted that the patterns of viral spread “depend a lot on what we as a society do, and how we interact.”

April 14: 2 new omicron variants are spreading in N.Y. and elsewhere. Here’s what we know (NPR)

Two new omicron variants—known as BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1, appear to be causing a surge in COVID-19 cases in central New York. “It looks like [BA.2.12.1 variant] has an advantage … It has certainly rapidly grown in some places,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noting that some of the variants’ mutations could help the virus evade the immune system. He noted, however, that “the total numbers of cases are not huge at present.”

April 14: Workers Are Getting Angry About Companies Ending Vaccine Mandates (Bloomberg News)

Nearly a third of employers who previously required COVID shots have dropped or plan to drop the requirement, according to a recent data. “Rolling back mandates seems to imply that the pandemic threat is somehow over when it’s not,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and Massachusetts public health commissioner. He noted that the only way to put the pandemic behind is “is to have the highest vaccination rates possible.”

April 13: Inside the Lab that Identified Omicron (Think Global Health)

This article examines the work of the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) and Sikhulile Moyo, who directs the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory and is a research associate in immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School. The BHP lab was the first to identify the Omicron COVID-19 variant, and has “produced groundbreaking work that has improved health outcomes around the world, perhaps most notably in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission,” according to the article.

April 13: “I didn’t know if I was going to wake up”: ‘Mild’ omicron can be severe (KUMN)

Even though COVID-19 cases that don’t require hospitalization are technically classified as “mild” or “moderate,” characterizing them that way could be misleading, because illnesses caused by Omicron could still be serious, according to experts. Justin Feldman, research associate at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, said that calling Omicron “mild”—which a number of officials did during the surge—compounded COVID hospitalizations and deaths since Thanksgiving.

April 12: Teen mental health in the pandemic: CDC data ‘echo a cry for help’ (Medical News Today)

Teens’ mental well-being has been on the decline in recent years, and it declined even further during the pandemic, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teens are contending with emotional and physical abuse at home, racism, and school disruptions. Archana Basu, research scientist, recommended communicating with children to help them recognize what they’re feeling, and validating their emotions.

April 12: Covid cases rise in Northeast as BA.2 omicron subvariant takes hold (Washington Post)

Coronavirus cases are rising in the Northeast, driven by the BA.2 omicron subvariant, but experts say it appears unlikely that there will be a huge surge. Increases in hospitalizations have so far been modest—possibly because immunity rose from the explosion of omicron cases over the winter—although that could change. “BA.2 is going to infect a lot of people who have so far evaded the virus,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “The question is how many of them are vulnerable to severe outcomes. Hopefully it is not many, and hopefully it will be easily handled.”

April 12: Covid in the Northeast (New York Times)

Although COVID cases are rising in the Northeast, experts aren’t sure if that means there will be a larger surge. “There’s definitely something coming,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “But depending on all the moving parts it might be a ripple relative to previous waves.” He added that “the most serious consequences will, as ever, be mostly determined by how many people are vaccinated/boosted.”

April 10: This invisible Covid-19 mitigation measure is finally getting the attention it deserves (CNN)

Good ventilation is increasingly being seen as a key tool for minimizing the risk of COVID-19, according to experts. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, noted that, in indoor spaces, “everybody in a room together is constantly breathing air that just came out of the lungs of other people in that room”—he describes it as “respiratory backwash.” Normally it’s not a problem, “but if someone’s sick and infectious … those aerosols can carry the virus. That’s a problem.” Ventilation and filtration can reduce the aerosols in indoor air and lower the risk of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, he said.

April 7: Seven days, 18,000 deaths: A look at omicron’s deadliest week (NBC News)

More than 125,000 people in the U.S. died of COVID-19 during the Omicron surge, and more than 18,400 died in just one week, between Jan. 30 and Feb. 5. Most of the fatalities were among older adults and middle-aged Blacks, and death rates were highest in the South and Southeastern U.S. Justin Feldman, research associate at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, noted that the Omicron wave was particularly deadly among older people because they mount a less effective immune response and often have other serious health conditions. He also noted that differences in racial COVID death rates are due to pervasive structural and economic differences.

April 7: The Covid questions we still can’t answer (Politico)

It’s very difficult to assess the effectiveness of COVID prevention measures such as mask mandates, social distancing, and closing bars or schools, according to experts. That’s because people use various combinations of these measures at the same time, making it hard to tease apart the relative benefits of one over another. Answering questions about COVID prevention measures has also been complicated by politics and assaults on public health. “A concerted and deliberate operation has been mounted to discredit public health advice, and it has been getting noisier recently,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He said that people choose whatever data they want to focus on, for whatever reason they want, a phenomenon he calls “choose your own pandemic.”

April 6: COVID vaccine plus infection can lead to months of immunity (Nature)

Three new studies suggest that, prior to the spread of Omicron, vaccination provided a benefit even for those who had a prior bout with COVID-19. Miguel Hernan, Kolokotrones Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, said that the studies show the near-universal benefit of full vaccination. Although some nations have encouraged people who have had COVID-19 to receive only a single vaccine dose, that move “may be justified in a setting of vaccine scarcity, but not otherwise,” according to Hernan.

April 6: 3 takeaways ahead of potential fall Covid booster campaign (Politico)

The Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory panel is beginning to outline U.S. COVID booster strategy moving forward—who should receive additional doses and when, and whether and how the vaccines should be reformulated to account for new and circulating variants. Experts noted that much is unknown about how the virus will evolve, which poses challenges for deciding what course to take. Eric Rubin, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School and a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, was quoted.

April 5: Every child deserves good health. That requires urgent action on equity. (Boston Globe)

In this opinion piece, Dean Michelle Williams and Kevin Churchwell, president and CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, recommended three ways to address the inequities in health outcomes faced by Black children, including improving maternal and child health, early-childhood support, and behavioral health and wellness.

April 5: ‘All the shrapnel that’s in my back’: Defiant Robert Redfield blasts former CDC directors for criticism during Covid-19 (STAT)

At an event hosted by Harvard Chan School, five former directors of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussed what has gone wrong at the agency, including perceived politicization during the pandemic.

April 5: Biden is pressured to end mask mandates on public transportation (NPR’s Morning Edition)

Mask requirements on public transportation have become increasingly contentious. Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, said that if the BA.2 variant, currently at “a very low rumble,” stays that way, “I think we’re at the point where we can lift that requirement to have masks worn on planes and in public transportation.” But if the variant causes a big surge in COVID cases, as it has in Europe, then it may be wise to keep the mask mandate in place, he said.

April 4: Cost of distancing may outweigh benefits for healthy adults (Harvard Gazette)

Even though the pandemic still poses risks to many people, there are also health risks to additional time spent socially distant from family and friends, according to experts. Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, said that pandemic-related school closures have been tough on tweens and teens, many of whom now lag  developmentally in terms of how to act with peers. She also noted that reconnecting with friends can be stressful because people have different risk tolerances for togetherness.

April 4: It’s time to consider relaxing mask requirements on flights (Washington Post)

In this op-ed, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, argued for lifting mask requirements during flights because “one of the safest parts of an entire trip is when travelers are seated in the airplane and the systems are running.” Allen also recommended that airplanes keep their systems running when they’re parked at the gate, and that airlines require people to mask when boarding and disembarking, “when there is greater mixing of people in the cabin and when people are exerting themselves more and therefore emitting more respiratory particles.”

April 4: African clinical trial denied access to key COVID drug Paxlovid (Nature)

Experts, including Melissa Barber, a doctoral candidate in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Global Health and Population, discussed Pfizer’s denial of a request to provide supplies of its antiviral drug Paxlovid so that it can be tested in a large African clinical trial. Barber noted that there’s a pressing need to test Paxlovid in a range of populations. “Clinically, we might expect populations with different comorbidities—for example HIV or diabetes—might have a range of side effects of possibly effectiveness,” she noted.

April 2: With COVID cases low, Biden and Democrats struggle to get more money to prepare for the next wave (Boston Globe)

Amid Congressional wrangling over how much money will be allocated to fight COVID in the months ahead, Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, noted, “The fact is that COVID is still here, that it still poses a threat both in its current form and in the form of future variants and we’d be foolish to not be preparing in some way for that.”

April 1: Creating the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (Clyburn Chronicles podcast)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, discussed her work helping create the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

March 31: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who worked on Moderna vaccine, cements her place in history (CBS Evening News)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, who helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, acknowledged that, as a woman of color in the science field, she is a role model to some children.

March 31: Failing to fund the U.S. covid response bodes trouble for the entire world (Washington Post)

In this opinion piece, Atul Gawande, who leads global health development at USAID and is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard Chan School, wrote that Congress’ failure so far to allocate more funding to fight COVID-19 globally “bodes serious trouble for the world.” Noting that cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Europe and Asia, he wrote, “Without additional funding, we risk not having the tools we need—vaccines, treatments, tests, masks and more—to manage future surges at home. And no less troubling, if we don’t close the vaccine gap between richer and poorer countries, we will give the virus more changes to mutate into a new variant.”

March 30: Administration, health experts nervously eye new virus variants (CQ Roll Call)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said he expects COVID-19 to settle into a seasonal pattern of spread, with cases picking up in the winter and declining in the summer, as the virus becomes more endemic.

March 29: From ‘herd immunity’ to today, Covid minimisers are still sabotaging our pandemic progress (The Guardian)

In this op-ed, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, wrote about the danger of playing down the seriousness of COVID and the importance of a response strategy involving testing, wastewater surveillance, investigation of variants, an emphasis on up-to-date vaccinations, and efforts to improve indoor air. “Every time you’ve heard a voice state it’s time to ‘live with the virus’ remember that doesn’t mean doing nothing about it,” he wrote.

March 29: F.D.A. Allows Second Coronavirus Boosters for Everyone 50 and Older (New York Times)

People aged 50 and older are now eligible for a second COVID-19 booster, although experts continue to debate just how helpful these boosters will be. At this point, “each additional dose is offering marginal value,” said Eric Rubin, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School and a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee. He said that what’s most needed now is a vaccine that works better against the new variants.

March 29: How clean is the air in your school or workplace? Hint: Many places are lacking. (Boston Globe)

Upgrading indoor air quality can reduce the risk of COVID transmission as well as the risk of flu and other airborne illnesses, and it can also help boost worker concentration and performance, according to experts. “When businesses do this, they can see a 10 percent benefit to the bottom line of an organization,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.

March 29: Mass. case numbers, coronavirus levels in waste water tick up from low levels (Boston Globe)

Although coronavirus levels are rising in waste water in Eastern Massachusetts, most experts don’t expect a huge surge. One reason is the timing. “I think that one of the things that might help us as we’re going into this next surge is that we’re entering the spring, which seems to be sort of a low time of circulation for SARS-CoV-2 across the U.S.,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

March 29: White House turns to air quality in latest effort to thwart coronavirus (Washington Post)

The Biden administration is turning toward improving ventilation and filtration in indoor spaces to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic and other airborne viruses. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was among experts involved in a White House event on the subject on March 29. He stressed the importance of improving indoor air quality as vaccination and mask mandates are rolled back. “It’s important that this becomes a passive control measure—passive in the sense that it doesn’t require people to do anything,” he said. “It’s not requiring you to wear a mask, or wear a good mask or wear it right. It’s operating in the background all the time.”

March 29: Was omicron more deadly than it needed to be in Mass.? Some experts say yes (WBUR)

Although Massachusetts fared better than most U.S. states during the Omicron wave, it could have done even better if a greater percentage of its population had received COVID-19 boosters. Roughly 30% of the state’s older population is not yet boosted—which is crucial in protecting against Omicron, according to experts. “As Omicron came on the scene, it has been worse than it needed to be,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

March 28: U.S. global Covid work will ‘grind to a halt’ without more cash (Politico)

USAID officials are facing the prospect of running out of money to fight COVID around the world, as funding is stalled in Congress. Atul Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, who leads global health development at USAID, said the money is crucial for vaccine supplies, getting vaccines into arms, mask production, and rapid test production.

March 28: Polio’s back. Blame Covid. (Politico)

The re-emergence of polio in Malawi is likely due to the pandemic interfering with many ordinary but necessary primary and preventive health services, such as childhood vaccinations. During COVID, people also lost trust in vaccines because of misinformation and politicization. “If Covid taught us something, it’s that bad governance can destroy a response and destroy trust of the population in health institutions,” said Marcia de Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography and chair of the Department of Global Health and Population.

March 26: Epidemiologist answers questions about the infectious omicron BA.2 variant (NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed the contagiousness and severity of the BA.2 variant, which is becoming the majority of the coronavirus population in the U.S. He stressed the importance of being fully up to date with your vaccinations to protect against severe disease.

March 26: The U.S. is talking about a second round of COVID-19 booster shots, and it’s going to be even more complicated than last year (MarketWatch)

As U.S. regulators consider whether to approve additional COVID-19 booster shots, experts say it will be important to tailor future vaccines to fight multiple COVID-19 variants. “That effort is certainly worthwhile as we think about the future of the virus, which is, from my perspective, a virus that we will continue to grapple with for years to come,” said Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow.

March 25: How Effective Were Vaccines During the Omicron Surge? (Verywell Health)

COVID-19 vaccines were highly effective at preventing severe disease and death against the Omicron variant, according to new studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though our immune systems aren’t quite as effective against Omicron as they were against previous variants, “We still have cells and antibodies, which are generated by getting vaccinated, that can attack the Omicron variant,” noted James Hay, postdoctoral research fellow.

March 25: A peek into Pfizer’s hyper pursuit of a vaccine (Washington Post)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, reviewed a book called “Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible,” by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, about how the company developed a COVID-19 vaccine. Hanage called the book “at times a pedestrian account of a truly remarkable scientific advance achieved under extraordinary pressure,” although he added that “Bourla’s character and enthusiasm—when they emerge—lift his narrative.”

March 25: ‘We Have All Moved on the Mental Health Spectrum During the Pandemic’ (The Wire Science)

Shekhar Saxena, professor of the practice of global mental health, discussed the pandemic’s huge toll on mental health. He noted that stress on children has increased substantially and that no countries have an adequate mental healthcare system.

March 25: POLITICO-Harvard poll: 40 percent of parents believe masks at school harmed their kids (Politico)

A recent poll found that more than 4 in 10 parents of school-aged children think mask-wearing harmed their children’s overall scholastic experience. Only 11% think masks helped, and nearly half said they made no difference. “Even if I’m in a Democratic state or district, I’d pay attention because there are a substantial number of independent parents who think the policy is hurting their children,” said pollster Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus.

March 25: Expert: Hard to know if COVID variant will surge in U.S. or how badly (Ohio Capital Journal)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that it’s difficult to project how hard the Omicron variant BA.2 surge will hit the U.S. He also discussed how to manage COVID-19 as it moves to an endemic phase. “One of the best things we can do to manage outbreaks is to just continue to keep informing people how much COVID is circulating in their communities and make it just as accessible as a weather report,” he said.

March 25: ‘It’s clearly in a growth phase.’ The BA.2 subvariant of omicron is rising in South Florida (Miami Herald)

Commenting on the Omicron variant BA.2, Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said, “The question of if and when a surge is coming [in the U.S.], and how large is … very much open.” As for the long-term outlook for the pandemic, he said he expects that COVID-19 will become a seasonal illness, with cases rising when people gather indoors without proper ventilation and masking.

March 24: As Covid-19 Flares Anew in Britain, the U.S. Watches for Possible New Surge (Wall Street Journal)

An uptick in COVID-19 cases in the U.K., spurred by the BA.2 Omicron variant, may mean that the U.S. will soon see a surge as well. But the fact that BA.2 hasn’t yet set off a U.S. surge could be a positive sign. “It’s going to come here, it’s going to do some stuff,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. But, he added, “It’s not going to be as uniform as it has been in Europe.”

March 24: Controversy trails COVID-19 tests for travellers as nations open up (The Guardian, Nigeria)

Allegations have surfaced of corrupt practices and profiteering surrounding COVID-19 testing among travelers to Nigeria. “Unfortunately the travel testing industry has enjoyed easy money on the back of the pandemic,” said Muhammad Pate, a former Nigerian health minister and Julio Frenk Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at Harvard Chan School. “There is definitely a need to reassess it.”

March 23: Moderna announcement raises hopes of parents with young children (GBH)

Moderna is seeking FDA approval to vaccinate young children for COVID-19. Although the efficacy of the vaccine is substantially lower than what was seen in Moderna’s adult vaccine trials, experts pointed out that the vaccine could still be useful. “The efficacy, while it doesn’t sound great, is actually roughly in line with the efficacy that we sometimes see from the seasonal flu vaccine,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “And that also can be very helpful for young kids to keep them from getting really sick from the flu. So I think that there is a precedent for using vaccines of about this efficacy in young kids.”

March 23: U.S. alcohol-related deaths hit highest rate in decades during coronavirus pandemic, study shows (Washington Post)

A study found that alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. jumped nearly 26% in 2020—the largest year-over-year increase in decades. Drug overdose deaths, often tangled up in alcohol fatalities, also spiked. Most overdose deaths were from opioids. Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management, who was not involved in the study on alcohol deaths, said that the pandemic didn’t create new social problems, but magnified existing ones, including social isolation, financial uncertainty, and mental illness with not enough available treatment. “It’s all kind of a perfect storm for addiction to get worse, if not prevent it from getting better,” he said.

March 23: State-run program to provide COVID tests to daycares could expire this summer (GBH)

Even as COVID numbers fall in Massachusetts, experts say that testing remains a crucial tool for preventing the spread of the virus, and is particularly important among children in daycare, who remain unvaccinated. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, noted that rapid tests “are still hugely helpful if a kid develops symptoms or if a kid has been exposed to someone, either at the daycare or at home, who has COVID. That can really help prevent a kid from showing up to the daycare while infected and causing a much bigger outbreak there, or vice versa from an outbreak happening in the daycare that they don’t bring home to their family.”

March 23: Lessons from the COVID data wizards (Nature)

Experts discussed what they’ve learned from the COVID-19 dashboards that mushroomed around the world during the pandemic. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that public dashboards for wastewater data proved powerful in helping track COVID infections and predicting new outbreaks. “Wastewater can’t lie,” he said.

March 22: Latest version of omicron accounts for most new infections in many parts of the U.S., genomics testing shows (Washington Post)

It’s unclear whether and when the BA.2 variant of omicron will drive a new wave of COVID-19 in the U.S., according to experts. “It’s only wise to assume there’s going to be another one coming along,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “What the consequences of that will be is very difficult to say.”

March 22: Vulnerable Communities Last to Be Vaccinated, Treated for COVID (Government Technology)

Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management, was quoted.

March 22: BA.2 version of omicron is rising in the U.S., but experts remain optimistic (NBC News)

Infectious disease experts say that the BA.2 omicron variant is unlikely to cause widespread severe illness or overwhelm hospital resources, even if it causes a spike in infections. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said it’s worth noting “that places in the U.S. that have lots and lots of BA.2 according to wastewater [data] are not skyrocketing in the way they did with BA.1 or even delta.”

March 22: Southwest Airlines flight attendants ask Biden to drop face mask mandate (Dallas Morning News)

Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, quoted.

March 21: Wastewater monitoring must be used as a tool to mitigate future COVID surges (Boston Globe)

The detection of the coronavirus in wastewater almost always means that there will be an increase in COVID-19 cases in a community, according to this opinion piece co-authored by Rebecca Weintraub, associate faculty member and director of the Better Evidence program at Ariadne Labs. The authors argued that public health agencies should be transparent about wastewater data, should communicate it simply, and should issue advisories about steps such as masking when coronavirus levels in wastewater increase.

March 21: America’s Next Omicron Wave (In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed what the U.S. can expect to see with the new Omicron subvariant BA.2, how a bump here might compare to what’s going on in Europe, and how people will navigate it amid relaxed vaccine and mask mandates.

March 21: Vaccination rates have stalled with another potential uptick coming. (New York Times)

With another potential COVID surge on the horizon, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, spoke about uncertainty around future COVID funding. “The challenges with funding being cut is we need to be sure we have the tools in place to address any future surge,” he said.

March 18: The last masking holdouts (Axios)

Although many places are ending mask requirements, airplanes, trains, and buses continue to require them. Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, said he thinks continuing masking during air travel is a good idea to reduce the risk of transmission and to avoid translocating the disease from place to place.

March 18: Better ventilation means healthier students, but many schools can’t afford to upgrade (NPR’s All Things Considered)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, noted that better air quality in schools can help improve students’ health as well as their performance, He applauded the new emphasis on school ventilation in the Biden administration’s National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

March 18: As COVID rates rise in Europe and Asia, how worried should Americans be about another wave? (USA Today)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that people who are healthy and fully vaccinated and boosted or recently infected with COVID-19 are likely well protected from the new BA.2 Omicron variant. But he noted that the highly contagious variant is “not going away anytime soon—unless something else comes along and displaces it, which I wouldn’t rule out.” He urged people to get vaccinated if they’re not already or, if they’re senior citizens, to get boosted.

March 17: Another COVID Wave Is Looming (The Atlantic)

Even though the BA.2 Omicron variant is driving new COVID-19 cases in the U.K. and several other countries in Europe, experts can’t say for sure if a surge in the U.S. will follow. A host of factors could sway a potential surge this way or that, including pandemic restrictions, vaccination and prior infection rates, and the weather. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said his best guess for the next few months is that some parts of the U.S. will continue to see a decrease in cases, but at a slower pace, while other areas will experience a bump.

March 17: COVID, 2 years later: Lessons learned from a global pandemic (WBUR’s “On Point”)

Richard Tofel, former president of ProPublica and a visiting fellow at Harvard Chan School, spoke about how the COVID pandemic reflected uncomfortable truths about the country—such as the fact that American leaders are not good at leading conversations about public health.

March 17: New federal ventilation guidelines mark next step in fight against COVID (ABC News)

New federal guidance is urging all building owners and operators to bring more fresh air into indoor spaces to fight COVID-19 and other illnesses. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, noted that “the White House is using its pulpit to drive home the message that clean air and buildings matter. That sounds simple, but it’s actually long overdue.”

March 16: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who worked on COVID vaccine,​ on changing the game in science: “It is an honor to be inspirational” (CBS Mornings)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, discussed her work helping develop Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and her efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy, in a conversation with Melinda French Gates as part of a CBS Mornings series called “Changing the Game.”

March 16: This key indicator may determine how bad a BA.2 wave could be in the US (CNN)

The new Omicron variant, BA.2, is picking up steam in the U.S. and puts millions of seniors at risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, either because they are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or had their most recent dose more than five months ago. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, urged seniors to get vaccinated and boosted. “Every additional layer of protection that we get helps,” he said. “This is definitely the time.”

March 16: COVID-19 cases in other countries are rising. How worried should the US be? (Boston Globe)

Rising COVID-19 cases in countries in Europe and elsewhere, spurred in part by the rise of the BA.2 Omicron variant, may mean a rise in such cases in the U.S., say experts. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that what happens in Europe offers a “glimpse of a possible future” in the U.S., although it’s not clear if BA.2 will sweep across the nation like the original Omicron did. “The only thing I’m very prepared to predict is that places with large quantities of unboosted, unvaccinated older folks are going to have a much more consequential experience with BA.2,” he said.

March 15: Partisanship undermines a playbook for the next pandemic (Axios)

Although difficulties during the pandemic—supply chain issues, problems administering vaccines on a mass scale, and messaging challenges—have provided valuable lessons for future responses, experts say that political differences could make it difficult to arrive at consensus on plans. “You never had Republican and Democratic positions on polio,” noted Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus. “We’ve let politics get in the middle of this.”

March 14: Which Coronavirus Vaccine Will Work in the Youngest Children? (New York Times)

Drug makers must walk a fine line in formulating COVID-19 vaccines for young children, ensuring that the vaccines are effective while producing minimal side effects. 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’s vaccine advisory committee, noted that, compared with adults, “there is no question that in children the benefit of an effective vaccine is less, because fewer get really sick.” But, he added, “it will benefit some individuals. It will save some lives.”

March 14: ESG is not enough. It’s time to add an H (Fortune)

Many companies now focus on ESG—environmental, social, and governance—principles to win favor with customers, investors, and employees. In this commentary, Dean Michelle Williams and Patricia Geli , research scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population, argue that health should be added to these essential principles. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an urgent need to build a more equitable, nimble, and muscular infrastructure to protect, promote, and preserve health and wellbeing,” they wrote. “It’s time to add an H to ESG.”

March 13: After developing a COVID-19 vaccine, scientist continues to research, educate about vaccines (USA Today)

In a Q&A, Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases—one of USA Today’s Women of the Year—talked about her role in COVID-19 vaccine development and her efforts to answer questions about her work with community and national organizations.

March 13: Our view: A pandemic unfolds and changes the world (The Eagle-Tribune)

After a long two years, some are hopeful that the pandemic is entering an endemic phase. But experts warn that COVID-19 cannot be trusted. “It’s so tempting to just try to forget about it and move on, but we can’t do that,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health. “All that will do is make us vulnerable to the next threat. We need to remain vigilant.”

March 11: Scientists Identify New COVID Variant Called ‘Deltacron’ (Web MD)

A new variant of COVID called “Deltacron” has been detected in a small number of cases in several countries. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted, “If it’s not causing lots of cases, people don’t need to be concerned.”

March 11: Experts: On anniversary of pandemic declaration, threat of COVID-19 still significant (UPI)

While much of the U.S. and Europe appear ready to move on from the pandemic, it’s still a threat, experts warn. “Pandemics only ‘end’ in a clean fashion if the pathogen is eradicated,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “There is no guarantee there will not be another variant.”

March 11: Harvard Expert Says Don’t Assume COVID Is ‘Done With Us’ On Pandemic’s Second Anniversary (WBZ)

Although we’re in a far better place than when the pandemic began two years ago, pandemics don’t simply go away, cautioned William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. To protect against future variants, “We should be maintaining our ability to test,” he said. “We should be enhancing our ability to produce new vaccines, if and when they are needed. We should be redoubling our efforts to get shots into the arms of those who need them most.” We should also be preparing for a fourth booster for vulnerable populations next fall and winter, he said.

March 11: Ventilation, Vaccination Key to Suppressing COVID-19 as People Head Back Indoors (Wall Street Journal)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, quoted.

March 8: Improving Ventilation Will Stop More Than Covid-19 (Bloomberg Opinion)

Improving indoor air quality is an effective and non-divisive way to improve health outcomes both during and beyond the pandemic. “You’re not cleaning surfaces, you’re not telling someone to wear a mask,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “It’s operating all the time in the background.”

March 7: White House must go further on new pandemic response, say former Biden advisers, outside experts (Washington Post)

A team of former COVID advisers to President Biden and dozens of other experts have issued a “road map” of more than 250 recommendations on how to live with the coronavirus and reduce the risk of other infectious diseases. Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, was one of the co-authors of the roadmap. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, and Gregory Wagner, adjunct professor of environmental health, also contributed.

March 4: When is a pandemic ‘over’? (Science)

The World Health Organization is responsible for officially declaring the pandemic “over” at some point—but the decision is a complicated matter with political, financial, and health implications, say experts. Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, noted that it’s “not an enviable task.” He asked, “Do you call it over when there still might be a wave in one part of the world but it’s a small part?” And Caroline Buckee, professor of epidemiology, said that the criteria for declaring a pandemic’s end are more social and political than scientific. “There’s not going to be a scientific threshold,” she said. “There’s going to be an opinion-based consensus.”

March 4: Some people may still need to wear a mask as restrictions lift, Boston doctors say (GBH’s “Greater Boston”)

People who are elderly, immunosuppressed, or have comorbidities may want to continue wearing a mask even as masking restrictions are loosening across the U.S., according to experts. “We can help those people by giving them good quality masks,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “When I say that, I mean things like a KF94, N95, two procedural masks one layered over the other will help.”

March 4: Public health restrictions in Canada are being dropped. So what does this mean for vaccinated individuals in the face of Omicron? (Globe and Mail)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that it while it will take time to have definitive answers about the impact of vaccination on coronavirus transmission, the rapidly falling number of cases and hospitalizations suggests that vaccines are helping slow spread.

March 3: Cities are ditching vaccine mandates to dine out and watch shows. Did they work? (Washington Post)

Experts say it’s not clear if vaccine mandates to enter restaurants and public places have helped to slow the spread of COVID-19, because the mandates were only in effect for a couple of months in most cities and it can be difficult to show where people may have been infected. “Did these vaccine mandates work in light of omicron? The answer is we don’t know, and we wouldn’t be able to know because we don’t have a randomized controlled trial,” said Ankur Pandya, associate professor of health decision science.

March 2: Biden’s New Covid Plan: Preparing for New Variants and Avoiding Shutdowns (New York Times)

One part of President Biden’s plan to get the nation out of COVID-19 crisis mode—ensuring that new vaccines are ready within 100 days of variants arising—may not be fast enough for a highly transmissible variant, according to Jay Winsten, director of the Harvard Initiative on Media Strategies for Public Health.

March 2: Restaurants Learned the Wrong Pandemic Lessons (The Atlantic)

Experts say that improved ventilation and filtration is the best way to lower the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses in restaurants. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that, in a perfect world, all restaurants would get regular tune-ups to ensure that their HVAC systems are working properly. Beyond that, he advised maximizing the amount of outdoor air coming in.

March 1: Covid-19: Why are face masks necessary on flights? (Stuff)

Countries are easing COVID-19 restrictions, but experts say it makes sense to keep mask requirements on airline flights. That’s because even though air travel is low risk, it’s not no-risk. Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, noted that masks can reduce the likelihood of getting COVID-19 by around 50%, and also can reduce your chance of transmitting COVID-19 by around 50%. “If you put that together—so you’ve got a lot of people on an aeroplane, everybody’s wearing a mask—you’ve done something, in combination with the ventilation system, that really reduces the likelihood of transmission,” he said.

March 1: “Over-vaccination causes faster mutation of the (COVID-19) virus, which causes a super virus we may not have the ability to fight off.” (Politifact) 

A recent claim by a Wisconsin state senator that over-vaccination causes faster mutation of the coronavirus is false, said a number of experts, including Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. She noted that the virus will try to escape people’s immunity whether it comes from having gotten sick with COVID-19 or from vaccination. In fact, the experts said, vaccinations play a role in slowing mutations of the virus.

March 1: Pfizer vaccine didn’t protect kids well from omicron but did prevent severe disease, studies suggest (USA Today)

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’s vaccine advisory committee, commented on studies that looked at how well the Pfizer vaccine protects children from COVID-19.

March 1: Demand for Covid-19 testing is falling, but experts caution it’s as important as ever (CNN)

Although demand for COVID-19 testing is decreasing, experts say it’s still important to have an adequate supply of tests on hand to detect possible surges. Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, said that a supply of tests should be kept in the Strategic National Stockpile, along with “clear plans for distribution to both hotspots and nationally.”

February 28: Our America: Health Equity & COVID (6abc Action News, Philadelphia)

Dean Michelle Williams was among panelists discussing inequalities in health care and how to support the mental health and wellness of health care workers.

February 28: Taking Vitamins and Supplements Won’t Help Reduce Your Risk of Dying From COVID-19 (Health Magazine)

Although a recent study suggests that vitamins don’t improve COVID-19 health outcomes, it’s still important to ensure that you’re not deficient in any nutrients, according to Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition. “In some ways the body and its immune system is like a car,” he said. “You need all the parts running and in good repair, and if you take out one critical part, it doesn’t work very well.”

February 28: NYC’s COVID battle: A new mayor and a—slightly—new approach (MarketWatch)

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, was among experts commenting on the differences between former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and the new mayor, Eric Adams, in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “New York City under both administrations has been proactive in their public health mitigation efforts,” she said.

February 28: New Covid vaccinations drop in US as cases and hospitalizations decline (The Guardian)

Experts caution that the coronavirus remains a threat to people are unvaccinated. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that people who have not gotten a booster or people whose immunity from an infection has waned could “become more susceptible to severe disease. I do think it’s of the utmost importance that we keep an eye on the virus over the summer and don’t assume that everything that’s going to happen is in the rearview mirror.”

February 27: At long last, employers are rolling out return-to-office plans (again) (Boston Globe)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that businesses should keep safety measures in mind as more employees begin to return to in-person work, noting that they may be wary of sitting too close to coworkers or commuting, and that immunocompromised workers and those with young, unvaccinated children may be particularly worried.

February 25: Indoor masking no longer necessary across most of the U.S, CDC says (Today.com)

The CDC has said that most Americans are now safe going without a mask in indoor settings, amid a significant drop in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. But William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, cautioned that the pandemic is not over. “The virus is still going to be here,” he said. “It is still going to pose a risk to people, and it’s probably going to get worse again in the fall and winter.”

February 25: Why the US may not be able to drop COVID restrictions like the UK (ABC News)

Some experts say that a major lifting of COVID restrictions, as the U.K. has done, may not be right for the U.S. because of its lower vaccination rate and less robust surveillance system. “There are lots of places in the U.S. that are not able to do that [lift restrictions] without risking much more severe consequences,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

February 25: Boost to the Future (Politico)

Barry Bloom, the Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, discussed a possible future treatment for COVID-19—“nanobodies,” which are tiny antibodies that “have the ability to get into all kinds of places,” such as the coronavirus spike. He also noted that even if the coronavirus mutates further so that it evades vaccines, updated vaccines can be developed quickly.

February 25: The global COVID-19 treatment divide (The Lancet)

Experts are warning of huge global inequities in access to new treatments for COVID-19, such as Pfizer’s anti-viral drug Paxlovid. Don Goldmann, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, noted that “rich countries have little incentive to help poor countries get access to this drug,” he said.

February 24: ‘Fauci lied:’ How misunderstanding about science and public health has helped fuel false claims (PolitiFact)

Social media claims that scientists and health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci are lying represent a misunderstanding about how science works, according to experts. They noted that scientific findings change over time and that public health guidance changes in response. David Jones, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, was quoted.

February 24: The Hard Lessons We Learned — and Didn’t — From Two Years in Pandemic School (Washington Post)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, commented on some of the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, he noted that COVID-19 may have been declared a pandemic earlier had it not been for swine flu, which fizzled out after dire warnings about its danger. He also commented on one argument, early on in the pandemic, that we should allow the coronavirus to sweep through the population while attempting to protect vulnerable people. “Tantamount to homicide,” Hanage said of that strategy.

February 23: Experts: New COVID-19 subvariant more contagious, perhaps harder to treat (UPI)

With studies showing that a subvariant of Omicron (BA.2) is more contagious than the original strain (BA.1), “we expect BA.2 to become the majority” of variants in the U.S., said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. But experts think that vaccination and prior infection could protect many people from severe disease consequences. What is known about BA.2 is worrying, Hanage said, “but not enough for a big shift in public concern in my view.”

February 21: Our public health system needs an overhaul — Congress can start here (The Hill)

Better cooperation and coordination among federal agencies, particularly the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, are needed to remedy the “mixed messages and unforced errors” that have characterized the U.S. response to COVID-19 over the past two years, wrote Dean Michelle Williams and Richard Tofel, former president of ProPublica and a distinguished visiting fellow at Harvard Chan School, in this opinion piece.

February 21: Disease trackers wary of fast-moving offshoot of omicron (Washington Times)

Scientists are keeping an eye on a variant of Omicron called BA.2 that seems to spread about 30% faster than the initial Omicron variant. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he thinks the new variant unlikely to cause another spike in the U.S., but “it does mean we can expect more infections over the next few months than would have been the case.”

February 19: Should You Still Wear a Mask? (New York Times)

Asaf Bitton, associate professor of health care policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management and executive director of Ariadne Labs, was among experts discussing where and when it’s safe to take a mask off. Bitton noted that it’s generally safe to unmask outside, unless you’re in a very crowded space. “If you’re really shoulder-to-shoulder with people, that might be a case of outdoor mask wearing, at least for now,” he said.

February 18: Coronavirus FAQ: Is it a good idea to get COVID before I’m over 60 and at higher risk? (NPR)

“It’s lunacy,” said Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, when asked if it makes sense for someone in their 50s to try to get COVID before they turn 60 and are in a higher-risk category. “Every time you get sick with COVID there is a small but not zero risk of bad things happening,” she said.

February 18: Do Covid treatments work against omicron subvariant? Scientists keep close watch (NBC News)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

February 18: Is it safe to travel if you’re vaccinated, boosted and recovered? Medical experts are divided (CNBC)

Experts disagree about how safe it is to travel at this point in the pandemic, even if you’ve been vaccinated, boosted, and recovered from COVID. Stefanos Kales, a professor in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Environmental Health, said he thinks people in the so-called “super immunity” category should feel secure to travel. “Unless you really have some serious condition or some serious concern, and you want to travel, absolutely you should travel,” he said.

February 18: Why Mass. is rolling back its mask and vaccine mandates (WBUR)

Communities across Massachusetts are rolling back COVID-19 restrictions such as masking. Leonard Marcus, founder and director of the Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, said he’s worried that some places are lifting protections too soon. “I’m just concerned that there are places that are getting a little bit ahead of the curve, and could inadvertently create a situation where those cases go back up,” he said.

February 18: As Omicron Surged, Covid-19 Spread Through Patients in Hospitals (Wall Street Journal)

The proportion of patients with hospital-acquired COVID-19 as a share of non-coronavirus patients has risen and fallen closely in line with COVID-19 cases in their surrounding communities, said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management. “The hospital itself is not an island,” he said, noting that, when there’s a surge in the community, it’s hard to keep the infection from spreading in hospitals when people come in with undetected infections.

February 18: Race is a risk factor for COVID, but Florida’s plan for a scarce therapy is color blind (Miami Herald )

Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management, discussed a study he led that found that monoclonal antibodies, an effective treatment for COVID-19, are mostly going to those who need them less—patients with the fewest chronic conditions—and that there also racial and ethnic disparities in their use.

February 17: Wastewater data indicates Boston area is in ‘back end of the omicron surge’ (WGBH)

In a Q&A, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, spoke about rapidly declining coronavirus levels in Boston-area wastewater data. “All signs are looking good,” he said.

February 17: Here’s how to decide if you’re safe to go out when you’re recovering from omicron (NPR)

Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, noted that a PCR test is not the right choice to figure out if you’re no longer infectious after having COVID-19, because the test is highly sensitive. “There are some people who have little blips of being PCR positive for weeks, or in some cases even months, after an infection”—even though they’re no longer contagious, he said.

February 16: New page in pandemic playbook (Harvard Gazette)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, and James Hammitt, professor of economics and decision sciences, discussed how to assess risk during a changing pandemic.

February 16: ‘Incredibly encouraging’: Coronavirus level in Eastern Mass. waste water is down 98 percent from peak (Boston Globe)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, called plummeting levels of coronavirus in sewage in Eastern Massachusetts “incredibly encouraging,” and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said it was “truly heartening.”

February 16: Unions celebrate court ruling blocking COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but Mayor Michelle Wu likely to appeal (Boston Globe)

An appeals court judge ruled against Mayor Michelle Wu’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for the Boston city workforce, arguing, in part, that even vaccinated individuals are able to transmit the virus. But Barry Bloom, the Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson Research Professor of Public Health, said that “the amount of virus in vaccinated individuals is remarkably less than that of unvaccinated individuals. We’re talking somewhere about two-thirds less likely to transmit infection.” He noted that vaccine mandates help not only vaccinated people, but vulnerable people such as young children, immunocompromised people, and others who have not been able to get the shots.

February 16: CDC Says 10% Of COVID Swabs Sent to Genome Lab, Raising Privacy Questions (Newsweek)

After the CDC shared in a tweet that it sends 5% to 10% of swabs used in COVID-19 PCR tests for “genomic sequencing,” some critics raised questions about human DNA privacy. But Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, said that scientists aren’t sequencing human DNA—instead, they’re using selected segments or genes to distinguish common COVID variants.

February 15: How this ‘little ole girl’ from North Carolina became a lead Covid-19 vaccine developer (MSNBC)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, who was instrumental in groundbreaking research that led to the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, discussed her efforts to address people’s “vaccine inquisitiveness,” especially in the Black community.

February 14: Protecting the Vulnerable (New York Times)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, were quoted.

February 14: Do masks protect you from COVID if others aren’t wearing one? What experts are saying (McClatchy News)

Experts advised people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 to continue wearing masks even if others don’t. “Wearing a mask when others are not does provide some level of personal protection,” said Leonard Marcus, founding director of the Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. However, “that protection is less than when everyone is wearing a mask.”

February 14: Want to Clear the Air in the Office? There’s New Filtration Tech to Help You (Inc.)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, quoted.

February 11: Endemic vs. pandemic: What it means to ‘learn to live with’ COVID-19 (National Post)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he has problems with the “new normal” and “we need to learn to live with it” narrative regarding COVID-19. He noted, “At the basis of this is the notion that a certain amount of illness and death is acceptable, and that action is only merited to prevent those limits being exceeded,” he said.

February 11: ‘The harder they push, the harder I’ve dug in’: The threat of getting fired still hasn’t persuaded some to get COVID-19 vaccine. How are resisters affecting the pandemic? (Chicago Tribune)

Roughly 15% of U.S. adults have told pollsters that they will “definitely not” get a COVID-19 vaccine. Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, commented on how that resistance will impact the pandemic. “Until we see the spread of COVID-19 through that population so they get some degree of immunity from infection—though it’s better with vaccination—we’re going to see relatively higher numbers of (unvaccinated) people requiring hospitalization and all the impact that comes from that,” he said.

February 10: There’s Good Reason to Be Optimistic About Omicron (TIME)

The recent Omicron surge—which has not resulted in as high a rate of hospitalizations and deaths as the Delta variant—underscores how well COVID-19 vaccines are working, according to this Ideas article by William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

February 10: How is America Still This Bad at Talking About the Pandemic (The Atlantic)

In this article, Richard Tofel, former president of ProPublica and a distinguished visiting fellow at Harvard Chan School, offered four lessons for transmitting clear, practical information during the changing circumstances of the pandemic: Public officials should be more candid about uncertainty; political leaders and scientists must do a better job considering each other’s perspectives; scientists should use language that the average listener can understand; and leaders should make sure to focus on heroes, such as those who invented and produced COVID-19 vaccines.

February 10: Mask mandates are lifting. Experts say here’s when to consider keeping yours on. (USA Today)

Experts say that deciding whether or not to wear a face mask in a particular situation depends on how much someone wants to avoid infection with COVID-19, the rate of COVID-19 where they live, and who else is around them. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that while one-way masking “isn’t perfect,” it’s pretty good, and that he personally will keep wearing a mask to places like the grocery store until COVID-19 infection rates come down to their lows of last spring. “I see little downside to mask use in many contexts,” he said.

February 9: Pandemic endgame: As Illinois aims to ease masking restrictions, experts weigh in on the right time to return to normalcy (Chicago Tribune)

Experts are divided on the best timeline to end COVID-19 restrictions such as masking. Stefanos Kales, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a professor in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Environmental Health, believes the time is now. “The vast majority of the population has immunity either because of the mass vaccination campaign or natural immunity, particularly after omicron,” he said. Given that it would be impossible to stop all transmission of the virus or eliminate all cases, he said the strategy should be to protect the most vulnerable populations, with testing and early treatment.

February 9: New York’s indoor mask mandate for businesses will be lifted Thursday (CBS Evening News)

As New York and several other states announced the lifting of indoor mask mandates, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science, weighed in. “It’s not ‘the pandemic is over’ by any means,” he said. “It’s just that we’re on the back end of a wave. We should take advantage of this time, pull back controls.” But, he added, “We should absolutely continue to monitor the trends.”

February 9: Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage: ‘Pandemics don’t have an official endpoint, with cheers and fireworks’ (El País)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, talked to El País about the dangers of treating COVID-19 as endemic, the importance of booster shots, and why the health crisis isn’t over.

February 8: With Mask Restrictions Set to Lift, a Haze of Uncertainty Lingers (New York Times)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was among experts commenting on the wisdom of lifting mask mandates as the Omicron surge begins to recede. “I think it’s entirely appropriate that we start lifting school mask mandates now,” he said. “We’re in a much better place than we were before, and it’s time to update our strategies to reflect the moment.”

February 8: Will a mask protect me even if no one else is wearing one? (NBC News)

Experts, including William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, say that wearing a mask can protect people from COVID-19 even if other people around them aren’t masking.

February 7: The challenge of personal choice and compliance in a pandemic (WBUR)

Leonard Marcus, founder and director of the Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, was interviewed on the show “Radio Boston” about how Massachusetts communities are grappling with questions about whether or not to end mask mandates, as COVID-19 infections decline.

February 7: How Should We Think About a Return to “Normal”? (Slate)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was interviewed about what it might mean to get back to “normal” as COVID-19 cases decline, how “normal” would be measured, and whether it’s the right time to be talking about it. “We’ve stayed on red alert too long,” he said. “Too many people are saying, ‘I’m done with this.’ Their frustration is understandable. But we can use data actually to inform decision-making.”

February 7: What to know about the study on lockdowns and COVID-19 deaths by economists (PolitiFact)

A non-peer-reviewed paper by three economists found that COVID-19 lockdowns barely reduced deaths, but experts have criticized its findings. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the question of whether lockdowns decrease death isn’t sensible. “The whole premise of it is wrong, because given enough time and no vaccines, if the virus infects enough people, they will die,” he said. “These interventions are designed to try and mitigate that so that they don’t all get sick at the same time, so it’s completely mistaken.”

February 6: Vastly unequal US has world’s highest Covid death toll – it’s no coincidence (The Guardian)

Vast income inequality and lagging vaccinations have led to the U.S. having the highest COVID-19 death rate of any wealthy country. “For a country which has a vaccines-only strategy, we’re not very good at vaccination,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He noted that poorer unvaccinated people face a “double whammy” because they struggle to access vaccines and are also more likely to contract COVID because of their living and working circumstances.

February 4: It’s time to ‘move on’ from the pandemic, says Harvard medical professor (CNBC) 

Arguing that, for most people, COVID-19 is not a serious threat, Stefanos Kales, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a professor in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Environmental Health, called for a return to normal life, particularly among the young. He said he favors focusing COVID-19 efforts on people who are vulnerable—older people, those with health problems, and the unvaccinated.

February 4: Study ties environmental conservation to pandemic prevention (E&E News)

Reduced deforestation, better management of wildlife trade and hunting, and better surveillance of zoonotic pathogens before they spill into human populations are all key strategies that could help prevent future pandemics, according to a new report. Aaron Bernstein, interim director of Harvard Chan School’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), was lead author and Marcia Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography and chair of the Department of Global Health and Population, was a co-author.

February 2: The Big Question: What Kind of Immunity Will Omicron Provide? (In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed what we know about the kind of immunity Omicron may provide against future variants, what role layered immunity will play moving forward, and why we shouldn’t count Delta out just yet.

February 2: Is Omicron really ‘milder’? Not exactly. (Harvard Gazette)

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant’s “milder” outcomes are likely due to more population immunity rather than the virus’ properties, according to a paper by William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard Chan School, and Roby Bhattacharyya, assistant professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and associate member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

February 2: Opinion: When should the government lift pandemic restrictions? These four metrics can provide the answer. (Washington Post)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, outlined four underutilized data metrics that officials can use to figure out when to impose or lift pandemic restrictions: watch levels of the coronavirus in wastewater; keep an eye on health-care capacity; track how many hospitalizations are actually due to COVID; and incorporate risk into decision-making.

February 2: Ask the Docs: Marking two years since the first COVID case in Boston (WBUR)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, answered listeners’ questions on a call-in radio show.

February 1: Willing but unable to get COVID shot (Harvard Gazette)

Andrew Chan, director of epidemiology at Mass General Cancer Center and a professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard Chan School, was senior author of a study that found that, in the U.S., Black people were less likely than white people to receive a COVID-19 shot, partly because of mistrust of the medical system but also because of lack of access.

February 1: Endemicity Is Meaningless (The Atlantic)

A future in which COVID-19 is endemic—circulating at lower levels, but still with us—remains highly uncertain because an endemic disease can be innocuous or severe, according to experts. “This distinction between pandemic and endemic has been put forward as a checkered flag,” when we are “done” with the crisis, but that isn’t the case, according to Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. And William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that if COVID-19 continues to surge in winters to come, on top of the many other types of infections that typically spread during winter, it “would not be a trivial outcome.”

January 28: Wastewater COVID is down 90% from its omicron peak. Experts are still concerned (WBUR)

COVID wastewater concentrations have fallen significantly in the Boston area, but experts note that transmission is still high. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that he expects cases will decline but numbers might plateau at a high level or even tick back up if people begin to socialize more.

January 27: Yes, Omicron Is Loosening Its Hold. But the Pandemic Has Not Ended. (New York Times) 

Immunity gained through vaccination or infection with Omicron is expected to bring us closer to the end of the pandemic, although the journey may be rocky at times, according to experts. Even if the next variant is generally mild, like Omicron, if it’s highly contagious it could still overwhelm the health care system. “When you’ve got something as transmissible as Omicron, you don’t need it to be incredibly severe to really screw things up,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

January 26: Hanage and other scientists keep close watch on Omicron subvariant (Harvard Gazette)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and other Harvard experts discussed an Omicron subvariant called BA.2 and the overall pandemic landscape. Hanage noted that increasing COVID-19 immunity—from exposure to past variants, vaccines, and boosters—means that future variants will likely cause less severe disease among “immunologically prepared” people over time.

January 26: Moderna starts trial on omicron-specific Covid booster in adults (NBC News)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

January 26: A man claims a Boston hospital is denying his heart transplant because he’s unvaccinated. Doctors say it’s not that simple. (Boston.com)

Daniel Wikler, Mary B. Saltonstall Professor of Ethics and Population Health, discussed how hospitals make difficult decisions regarding transplants. “Transplant teams have to make very difficult choices in selecting those who will receive the very scarce organs, and requiring a COVID vaccine is reasonably related to that valid goal,” he said.

January 25: The rise of rapid tests has made diagnosis easier. But it could make Omicron data ‘dodgy in the extreme.’ (Boston Globe)

The use of rapid at-home COVID-19 tests has ballooned along with the Omicron surge, but experts noted that the results from many of those tests go unreported, making it difficult to know the true prevalence of the virus. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health, were quoted.

January 25: Charts show hospitalizations falling in Mass. as Omicron weakens, but deaths are still rising (Boston Globe)

Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health, noted that rapidly dropping case rates of COVID-19 in Massachusetts are a “great relief.” But he added that “the current level of hospitalizations and deaths remains unacceptable,” and he urged people to get fully vaccinated and boosted.

January 25: What Does ‘Endemic’ Covid Mean? The Experts Don’t Agree (Washington Post)

This opinion piece explored what endemic COVID-19 will be like, and how people are likely to proceed with life amid the ongoing risk. The article cited recommendations from two Harvard Chan School experts—Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, who has called for healthier buildings to reduce the spread of disease, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, who has said that, to prepare for a future with waves and lulls of disease, better surveillance and data is needed.

January 24: Opinion: Biden has failed to defeat covid-19 as promised. Here’s how he must shift his strategy. (Washington Post)

Dean Michelle Williams listed five goals for President Biden as he tackles COVID-19 in the year ahead: Level with the American people, vaccinate the world, protect our health-care workers, value public health, and “prepare, prepare, prepare” for new and potentially more deadly diseases that may emerge.

January 24: New Studies Attribute Omicron’s Rapid Spread to Variant’s Immune Evasion Ability (Weather.com)

Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, quoted.

January 22: Omicron could be peaking in the US — but experts urge caution (The Hill)

Amid what appears to be a possible national peak in Omicron cases, the Biden administration has been rolling out measures such as free N95 masks and a website to order free rapid tests. But the tools aren’t likely to be widely available until the worst of the wave has passed. “There’s a metaphor here which involves horses and stable doors,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “It should have been done way in the past.”

January 20: Why Covid-19 is always one step ahead of the US response (Vox)

Experts say the main factors in the U.S. government’s slow response to Omicron was an over-reliance on vaccines, a failure to develop contingency plans, and a lack of expert consensus on appropriate public health interventions. Justin Feldman, research associate at the  François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, were quoted.

January 20: COVID-19 cases have peaked in Massachusetts (Boston Globe)

With new COVID-19 cases dropping swiftly in Massachusetts, experts are cautiously optimistic that the state is headed toward a respite. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said he expects cases will continue to drop and is “cautiously optimistic” that, by summer, the acute phase of the pandemic will end and the disease will become endemic. He said he envisions a time when COVID-19 spread will be more predictable, perhaps requiring the resumption of precautionary measures every winter. “One of the things that won’t go away is some degree of masking during the winter months,” he said.

January 20: Omicron optimism and shift from pandemic to endemic (Harvard Gazette)

Some experts are expressing cautious optimism as Omicron peaks in some U.S. states, and they envision a transition from pandemic to endemic. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, cautioned that an “endemic” can still cause many deaths, and said he remains wary of future surges and variants.

January 20: Omicron is “the fastest-spreading virus known to humankind.” (PolitiFact)

While measles is the most contagious virus on the planet, Omicron spreads more quickly, according to experts. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, explained the science behind transmission.

January 20: Analysis-How Omicron highlights fading hope of herd immunity from COVID (Reuters)

Omicron’s ability to infect people who were vaccinated for COVID-19 or who had a prior infection makes the possibility of herd immunity against the virus unlikely, according to experts. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and science director of the CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, said that two factors have undermined vaccines’ ability to protect against SARS-CoV-2: one, that immunity to infection wanes quickly from the current vaccines, and two, that the virus can mutate quickly enough to evade immunity, even if it hasn’t waned.

January 20: Why do more men die of COVID? It’s likely not what you think (Harvard Gazette)

Social factors appear to play a greater role than biological differences in the fact that men die of COVID at a higher rate than women, according to new research from Harvard’s GenderSci Lab. Factors at play include timing of surges, state health policies, gender-associated health behaviors, race, income level, and occupation, according to the study. “Without considering [social and contextual] factors, you’re missing part of the picture of why people might be getting exposed or getting a more severe case,” said Tamara Rushovich, a Harvard Chan graduate student and GenderSci Lab researcher.

January 19: Opinion: 5 steps we must take to vaccinate the world’s vulnerable—and end the pandemic (NPR)

In this opinion piece, two Harvard Chan School students, Edward Cliff and Isaac Chan, and Salmaan Keshavjee, a Harvard Medical School professor, wrote about what it will take to end the pandemic. They recommending producing billions more vaccines; funding “last mile” delivery that ensures vaccines make it through the final steps in the supply chain; setting bold vaccination goals; building more trust in vaccines; and ensuring that vaccines benefit people, not just companies.

January 19: How does Omicron spread so fast? A high viral load isn’t the answer (Nature)

Preliminary research from Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, suggests that Omicron’s high level of transmissibility isn’t because it causes high viral load, but because it’s able to evade immunity either from vaccination or prior infection.

January 19: Epidemiologists warn impacts of omicron could linger ‘if you declare victory too quickly’ (WBUR)

Even though Omicron cases are quickly declining in Massachusetts, experts say we shouldn’t relax precautions until hospitals are less overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. But soon, Omicron-related disruptions in schools, hospitals, and in the airline industry are likely to start subsiding, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

January 19: After Omicron, This Pandemic Will Be Different (New York Times)

In this opinion piece, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, wrote that Omicron’s extraordinary spread is generating immunity quickly, which could help make COVID-19 a more manageable illness. Although the pandemic will continue for now, “we should be confident that future surges of infections, whether with Omicron or whatever variant comes next, will make fewer of us seriously ill than they would have before.”

January 19: Why Joe Biden Gave Up on Covid (The New Republic’s The Politics of Everything podcast)

Justin Feldman, research associate at the  François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, spoke about the Biden administration’s COVID response. He said the administration focused on vaccination as the primary way to tamp down the pandemic, and less on shoring up measures such as testing capacity, which led to current test shortages.

January 19: Experts reveal why most data-driven initiatives failed to impact COVID-19 public health crisis (News Medical)

This article reviewed an opinion piece that was co-authored by Caroline Buckee, professor of epidemiology; Satchit Balsari, assistant professor in the Department of Global Health and Population; and Andrew Schroeder of Direct Relief, that described the major challenges in successfully using data from technology companies during times of crisis. The authors are part of Crisis Ready, a platform that aims to embed data-driven decision-making into local disaster planning around the world.

January 18: A year in, experts assess Biden’s hits and misses on handling the pandemic (NPR)

Dean Michelle Williams spoke about some challenges facing the Biden administration regarding COVID-19 response, such as working to overcoming vaccine hesitancy and increasing the accessibility of testing and high-quality masks.

January 18: U.S. faces a wave of omicron deaths in coming weeks, models predict (PBS NewsHour)

Some experts predict that there could be 50,000 to 300,000 more deaths in the U.S. from Omicron over the next couple of months. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and science director of the CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, noted that overburdened hospitals could contribute to more deaths. “In places with extremely short staffing and overloads of patients, as the medical professionals have been telling us, the quality of care begins to suffer,” he said. “That may also lead to higher death rates.”

January 18: Still testing positive for COVID-19 after 10 days? Here’s what to know (TODAY.com)

People with COVID-19 will likely test positive on an at-home rapid test for about six to 10 days, and sometimes longer, according to Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. He said if you continue to test positive you may still be contagious, but he added that people tend to be most infectious right at the beginning of their infection, so that by day 8, 9, or 10, “you still have the chance to spread to other people, but it’s probably not as much as you did early in the course of your infection.” If you need to stop isolating, he recommended avoiding enclosed spaces with others and wearing a good mask.

January 18: COVID: Do multiple boosters ‘exhaust’ our immune response? (Deutsche Welle)

With some countries, such as Israel, beginning to provide 4th doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to their citizens, some experts said it’s possible the shots could have a negative impact on immune response. But other researchers said there’s no proof that would happen. Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, addressed the concern that our bodies’ T cells, which aid in immune response, may become “exhausted” after seeing antigens—like those provided by vaccines—multiple times. She said that the science on T cell exhaustion is more complicated that merely seeing antigens repeatedly.

January 18: Omicron cases may be peaking in some U.S. states, but Covid is overwhelming hospitals. (New York Times)

Even though Omicron seems to be peaking in the northeastern U.S., there are still a huge number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals, straining already hollowed-out staffs. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that after this wave, while future outbreaks from Omicron will be possible, “we expect them to be milder.”

January 17: How Will the Pandemic End? (Voice of America)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said he thinks that, eventually, COVID-19 will reach a state where it’s more like another infectious disease: the flu.

January 17: What’s the difference between a pandemic and an endemic? (ABC News 10)

Experts think that COVID-19 will move from pandemic to endemic eventually, becoming more like the seasonal flu with areas of outbreaks. “Since viruses spread where there are enough susceptible individuals and enough contact among them to sustain spread, it’s hard to anticipate what the timeline will be for the expected shift of COVID-19 to endemicity,” said Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

January 15: Canadian COVID-19 vaccine study seized on by anti-vaxxers — highlighting dangers of early research in pandemic (CBC)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and science director of the CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, quoted.

January 15: When It Comes to Living With Covid, Businesses Are on Their Own (New York Times)

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, businesses may opt to manage the risk of the virus in their offices or work sites instead of trying to prevent cases from occurring at all, according to experts. “If you’ve mandated vaccines, encourage boosters, have good ventilation and filtration—amazing, you’ve done what you need to prevent the worst outcomes,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.

January 14: Dozens of Mass. doctors, scientists sign on to letter supporting Fauci, decrying attacks on him (Boston Globe)

Dean Michelle Williams, who was one of dozens of doctors and scientists who signed an open letter supporting Anthony Fauci against Republican attacks, said, “The vitriol directed towards Dr. Fauci over the past two years … is entirely unacceptable.”

January 14: The Worst of the Omicron Wave Could Still Be Coming (The Atlantic)

Experts said that Omicron cases in the U.S. could descend precipitously from a high peak, but could also drop more gradually and even increase at times. Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said he thinks the initial downslope will be precipitous, but added that as the virus progresses through more rural parts of the U.S., it will peak at different times in different places, slowing the overall decline.

January 14: The omicron surge may be starting to peak in some parts of the U.S. (NPR)

While Omicron appears to be peaking in some northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, infections are still rising in many other places, such as the Midwest, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology—which means that the number of people getting sick and hospitalized will continue to rise for weeks.

January 13: Omicron may be plateauing in Northeastern cities (The Hill)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

January 13: Scores of doctors and scientists sign a statement condemning personal attacks against Fauci. (New York Times)

Dean Michelle Williams was one of the more than 200 leading U.S. doctors and scientists who signed an open letter in support of Anthony Fauci, who has been the subject of Republican attacks.

January 13: ‘Menace to public health’: 270 doctors criticize Spotify over Joe Rogan’s podcast (The Guardian)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was one of 270 doctors, scientists, healthcare professionals and professors who signed an open letter to the streaming company Spotify expressing concern about medical misinformation, particularly about COVID-19, on the platform’s most popular program, The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

January 13: Is Omicron Peaking? (New York Times)

Omicron appears to be peaking in parts of the Northeast, possibly following a similar trajectory as in some places where it arrived earlier, such as South Africa. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, called that cycle—a large surge followed by a steep decline—“a familiar pattern.”

January 12: Tensions Rise Between Fauci, GOP Over Covid-19 Pandemic Response (Wall Street Journal)

At a January 11 congressional hearing, Republican lawmakers clashed with White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci about the Biden administration’s COVID response. Speaking about the divisiveness, Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, said that “we have politicized this [COVID-19 response] between parties and we’ve never had epidemics or natural disasters politicized. In polio, there wasn’t a Democratic or Republican view.”

January 12: ‘Unambiguously good news’: Sharp decline in COVID wastewater levels in Boston area (WBUR)

There’s been a steep decline in COVID levels in Boston-area wastewater—“unambiguously good news,” according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “When I refreshed the website and saw it, I literally punched the air and let out a hoot because it was something I’ve been hoping for.”

January 12: ‘This is not a virus to fool around with,’ an expert says, as the return-to-classroom debate rages on (CNN)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was quoted on the importance of keeping kids in school in spite of the Omicron surge.

January 12: Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Ever End? (Voice of America)

Amid the ongoing pandemic, experts say that society will have to evolve. Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, noted that more people in the U.S. may choose to wear masks most of the time and that it may become unacceptable for people to go to work or school when they’re sick.

January 12: The Newest Corporate Perk (New York Times)

At some of America’s largest firms, rapid COVID tests are free and often readily available. “It doesn’t surprise me that many organizations who were recognizing they need these tests to stay in business were buying them,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.

January 11: Biden vowed to fix testing. But he didn’t plan for Omicron. (CNN)

Experts discussed the importance of ensuring that people have access to COVID tests as the pandemic continues. “What we’ve been hampered by is thinking that the role of testing is sort of secondary and optional, where really the role of testing is foundational throughout the course of the pandemic and throughout the exit from the pandemic,” said Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management.

January 11: Greater Boston could be past its latest coronavirus peak, new wastewater data shows (WGBH)

COVID levels in Boston-area wastewater are dropping, a sign that case counts will soon drop too. But William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said it’s important to maintain mitigation efforts. “We still have to be concerned about infections among older adults, especially those unvaccinated, which are likely to be a problem for some time,” he said.

January 11: CDC may start recommending N95 masks (Washington Post)

Amid debate about whether people should start wearing better-quality masks such as N95s or KN95s to prevent infection with the Omicron variant, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said he doesn’t think people need to wear them all the time. “Context matters. If you’re with a group of people who are fully vaccinated and boosted, your risk is low, your risk of a severe outcome is very low,” he said.

January 10: Should you report your rapid test? The state says no (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts doesn’t have a system allowing residents to report the results of rapid COVID tests taken at home. Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and Massachusetts public health commissioner, said he expects that cases are substantially underreported, which skews the data necessary to plan hospital capacity and staffing. The lack of data about home tests is just “the latest example of the overwhelming need for better public health systems in a time of crisis,” Koh said.

January 10: Omicron Is Forcing Us to Rethink Mild COVID (The Atlantic)

The fast-moving Omicron variant is taking a toll on health as well as leading to staffing shortages at hospitals, schools, airlines, businesses, and more—meaning that there will be unpredictable cancellations, according to experts. “It’s going to be a messy few weeks,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “I don’t think there’s any way around it.”

January 10: To keep schools open during COVID, Governor Baker must make them safer (Boston Globe)

In this opinion piece, Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences, wrote that the state of Massachusetts needs to do more to keep schools open safely during the Omicron surge. “It requires implementing four recommendations—vaccinate, test, ventilate, and mandate masks in schools,” he wrote.

January 9: US hospitals strained with influx of patients amid latest COVID-19 surge, staffing shortages (ABC News)

Rebecca Weintraub, associate faculty member and director of the Better Evidence program at Ariadne Labs, quoted.

January 9: The pandemic is changing. Will omicron bring a ‘new normal’ for COVID-19? (USA Today)

Bruce Walker, professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, quoted.

January 9: Omicron is surging — and Democrats aren’t shutting things down this time (Politico)

Democratic mayors and governors are pushing to keep schools and businesses open during the Omicron surge. Democratic leaders “see an upcoming election, they see backlashes,” said polling and political strategy expert Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus. “They can’t close things down, and there is no public tolerance for serious disruptions in people’s lives. People have run out of patience.”

January 8: Omicron has completely changed the pandemic — it’s time to change how we respond to it (CBC)

Experts discussed the importance of slowing down the Omicron surge to protect the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed. Omicron has brought us “back to flattening the curve,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

January 8: COVID may become endemic — meaning the virus and its mutations may never disappear (Boston Globe)

A time will come when COVID-19 will not be so disruptive to life, according to experts. “I don’t think there will be a certain day we declare victory,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and science director of the CDC’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. “But we could be moving toward a world in which the virus is endemic but it’s less harmful to us—not because the virus has changed, but because we have.”

January 7: Omicron: U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about vaccine mandate amid latest surge (Yahoo! Money)

Thomas Tsai, senior fellow at the Harvard Global Health Institute and assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard Chan School, discussed legal challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, vaccine strategy in the future, healthcare burnout, and what living with the virus will be like in the future.

January 7: Vaccination rates for Massachusetts children, ages 5-11, are a ‘tale of two states’ (Boston Globe)

There are wide disparities in vaccination rates among Massachusetts communities, according to an analysis by Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences. The lowest rate are in many of the poorest communities. “What we really need is a massive education campaign led by the state, coupled with vaccine ambassadors,” said Geller.

January 7: CDC director, under fire for confusing guidance, seeks to reshape messaging (Washington Post)

Experts have been criticizing confusing COVID-19 messaging from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky. Jay Winsten, director of the Initiative on Communication Strategies for Public Health, said that the communications situation is at a “tipping point.”

January 7: From skiing to shopping to testing, here’s what you need to know to stay safe during Omicron (Boston Globe)

Eve Wittenberg, senior research scientist in the Center for Health Decision Science, was among experts discussing how best to stay safe during the Omicron surge. She said it’s important to consider your situation—such as whether you’re vaccinated,  boosted, wearing a high-quality mask, and whether you or people you live with have any medical conditions that put you at risk—when deciding which activities to do.

January 6: ‘Schools should not close’ (Harvard Gazette)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, discussed why it’s important to keep schools open even amid the Omicron surge.

January 6: Fact Check-What is the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)? (Reuters)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, spoke about the benefits of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). He said the system, although imperfect, helps empower people to make data-based decisions about their health and about community health.

January 6: Biden, in Shift, Prepares Americans to See Covid-19 as Part of Life (Wall Street Journal)

Amid changing messaging about COVID-19 from the Biden administration, Vish Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, said that the administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should offer more context when issuing recommendations. “You have to give credit to the American public,” he said. “They can appreciate that science and evidence is changing.”

January 6: Rapid nasal COVID tests feared to be returning false negatives (Axios)

Early evidence suggests that rapid COVID-19 tests are missing some Omicron cases when people are infectious. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that “we should start testing saliva, although … we are having to make important decisions in the absence of what would count as a good evidence base.”

January 5: ‘These deaths could have been averted’: Doctors lament that too many residents went without life-saving vaccines upon Mass. exceeding 20,000 COVID deaths (Boston Globe)

Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences, quoted.

January 4: Omicron and masks: What you need to know to stay safe (WGBH)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, talked about the importance of wearing a mask with good filtration and good fit, and offered advice about three types of masks: N95, KF94, and KN95 respirators; surgical masks; and cloth masks.

January 4: Kizzmekia Corbett on the omicron variant and the the future of mRNA vaccines (Washington Post Live)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, spoke about leading the team behind Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, the Omicron variant, and the development and future possibilities of mRNA vaccine technology.

January 4: Public Health Expert Says Keeping Schools Open Is Critical (WBZ)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that in-person learning is critical, even if it’s bumpy because of the Omicron surge.

January 3: Some Infectious Disease Specialists See COVID Approaching ‘Endemic’ Stage After Omicron (Newsweek)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that he believes COVID-19 will reach the endemic stage, “much like the flu is endemic.”

January 3: Attitudes Toward Contract Tracing Among Undocumented Immigrants (Contagion Live)

A new study found that immigrant communities may be more hesitant to disclose personal health information during contact tracing, because they fear bullying or deportation. The study was co-authored by MPH student Hye Young Choi.

January 3: How will pandemic end? Omicron clouds forecasts for endgame (AP)

Experts say that COVID-19 will eventually become endemic, which Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, defined as “some sort of acceptable steady state” in which the coronavirus continues to circulate much like the flu.

January 1: Much has changed since the start of the pandemic. But the nation’s public health system remains fractured. (Washington Post)

Experts say that the U.S. public health system needs shoring up. Jay Winsten, director of the Initiative on Communication Strategies for Public Health, noted that, over the past two years, there hasn’t been enough focus on organizational overhauls or preparation for future pandemics. He added that public health messaging has too frequently been incomplete or contradictory.

January 1: Scientists Predict Omicron Will Peak in the U.S. in Mid-January But Still May Overwhelm Hospitals (Yahoo News/The New York Times)

The news that South Africa has passed its peak of coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant suggests that the U.S. omicron surge may also peak quickly, say experts. But with case numbers increasing in the U.S. so fast, hospitals could still be overwhelmed. “The context for all of this is that hospitals are struggling,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “We don’t have that much spare capacity. And of course, omicron makes that worse.”

2021

December 30: ‘Crazy’ omicron surge could peak soon, but the virus is unpredictable as the pandemic enters its third year (Hanage)

Some experts predict that the current surge of omicron infections could peak by mid-January in the U.S. “Omicron will likely be quick. It won’t be easy, but it will be quick. Come the early spring, a lot of people will have experienced covid,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

December 28: I helped develop COVID-19 vaccine, let’s reach unvaccinated by listening not shaming (USA Today)

Opinion piece by Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases

December 28: Will Shortened Isolation Periods Spread the Virus? (New York Times)

Some experts think that, without a requirement for rapid testing, new U.S. guidelines that shorten isolation periods for Americans infected with the coronavirus could mean that many infected people could leave isolation while still contagious. “To me, this feels honestly more about economics than about the science,” said Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “I suspect what it will do is result in at least some people emerging from isolation more quickly, and so there’ll be more opportunities for transmission and that of course will accelerate the spread of COVID-19.”

December 28: As omicron outpaces demand for rapid tests, Biden admin. working out purchase of millions (Spectrum News)

The Biden administration is finalizing a plan to ship millions of rapid COVID-19 tests to Americans in January, but widespread delivery of the free tests is still weeks away. “It’s a beginning,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and Massachusetts public health commissioner. “They [the tests] need to be everywhere. Omnipresent.” He added, “This is yet another area where we have to learn. It just wasn’t a priority to subsidize these tests in the same way vaccines have been subsidized all along.”

December 28: Fauci says U.S. should ‘seriously’ consider vaccine mandate for domestic flights as cancellation issues persist (Spectrum News)

The Omicron variant surge has been sidelining airline staff, leading to thousands of flight cancellations during the busy holiday season. Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, said, “Omicron [is] rewriting the rules. That’s means … that it’s changing the flow of traffic through our aviation system.”

December 27: As Omicron Surges, Officials Shorten Isolation Times for Many Americans (New York Times)

On December 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened by half—from 10 days to five—the recommended isolation period for many Americans infected with the coronavirus. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was quoted about the move.

December 27: Two Boston researchers propose ‘circuit breakers’ to stem spread of COVID-19 (Boston Globe)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, called for the U.S. to use “circuit breakers”—temporary local restrictions on high-risk activities such as indoor dining, performances, or non-essential work outside of homes—to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases amid the surge of the Omicron variant.

December 26: What to expect from America’s third year of COVID (Axios)

According to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, 2022 “will start with an almighty surge of Omicron. This will play out differently in various places, but it is hard to imagine anywhere will be spared.” He added, “By the time spring rolls around, a lot of people are going to have had the experience of having had COVID.”

December 26: It took a major effort to deliver the COVID vaccine. These people in NC did their part (The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC)

This article describes the efforts of Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, who conducted research at the National Institutes of Health that enabled the creation of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19.

December 25: The unvaccinated in the U.S. remain defiant. (New York Times)

Roughly 15% of U.S. adults remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that the unvaccinated are “much more likely to be in a hospital, and they’re much more likely to be taking up a bed that might be wanted” this winter.

December 24: Harvard Researcher Talks Global Health Resilience Amid COVID-19 (Forbes)

Catherine Arsenault, research scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population, discussed her research about the resilience of health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

December 24: C.D.C. Faces Pressure to Change Isolation Guidelines for Sick Workers (New York Times)

On December 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced, in some circumstances, the number of days it recommends that health care workers who test positive for the coronavirus isolate themselves. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said the move was good, “but it’s shortsighted not to apply this more broadly: schools, colleges, sports, Broadway, restaurants, airlines,” he said.

December 24: White House rejected Oct. plan to boost holiday COVID testing: report (New York Post)

A group of COVID-19 testing experts from Harvard Chan School, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the COVID Collaborative urged the Biden administration to manufacture roughly 732 million tests per month to avoid a holiday COVID testing crunch, but the White House passed on the proposal, according to media reports. Stephen Phillips, vice president of science and strategy for the COVID Collaborative, said the administration was “playing small ball.”

December 23: 5 things to know about COVID-19 tests in the age of Omicron (National Geographic)

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, offered advice about using COVID-19 tests amid the Omicron surge, such as how long to wait to test after an exposure, which test to use, and what to do if you test either negative or positive.

December 22: Omicron Infections Seem to Be Milder, Three Research Teams Report (New York Times)

Early research suggests that cases of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant are typically less severe than those caused by Delta and other previous variants. But William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the variant’s high transmissibility means that unvaccinated people are at especially high risk. “If you are unvaccinated and you have never been infected, it is a little less severe than Delta,” Hanage said. “But that’s a bit like saying you’re being hit over the head with one hammer instead of two hammers. And the hammers are more likely to hit you now.”

December 21: Omicron is spreading at an alarming rate, and there’s no solid evidence it’s ‘milder’ (The Guardian)

In this opinion piece, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, argued that it is too soon to say whether or not the omicron variant of the coronavirus causes less severe infections than other variants.

December 21: Biden tries to teach to the Covid test (Politico)

Although the Biden administration is promising to make 500 million at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests available to the public, the nation still needs to do more to help Americans who test positive safely quarantine with paid time off and a place to go, according to Asaf Bitton, associate professor of health care policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management and executive director of Ariadne Labs.

December 21: The best-case scenario with omicron will still be bad (Washington Post)

Although early research suggests that omicron is less severe than previous COVID-19 variants, “we underestimate this virus at our peril,” wrote William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, in this opinion piece. That’s because omicron is highly transmissible and could result in huge numbers of people becoming infected, which could cause enormous societal disruption, increase the risk of long COVID, and further overwhelm hospitals. Hanage wrote that it is “past time” to deliver more vaccines to developing nations, increase access to rapid tests, demand better public health communication from officials, and develop strategies to live in a world where the coronavirus is continually circulating.

December 20: NFL’s covid-testing plan could fuel spread, experts say, but it’s ‘where society is going’ (Washington Post)

Under the NFL’s new policy for testing for COVID-19, the league will only test those who show signs of illness. Experts say that could mean that more players and staff will be unknowingly infected. Asaf Bitton, associate professor of health care policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management and executive director of Ariadne Labs, said that the plan places “a big bet on a number of assumptions,” particularly that early data is accurate and that Omicron causes less severe disease than other coronavirus variants.

December 20: What the White House is doing as omicron begins to take off in the U.S. (WBUR)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, called for the Biden administration to do more and faster as Omicron fuels a surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. He criticized the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeffrey Zients, for stigmatizing people who haven’t been vaccinated during a press briefing. “You don’t actually get people vaccinated by heckling them,” he said. “It requires a shot in the arm, not a wagging finger in the face.” He also recommended that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention begin daily briefings. “The situation is changing day to day at just such a remarkable rate that we really need somebody to just … steady the ship,” he said.

December 20: 2 Boston researchers urge CDC to encourage short-term restrictions in areas of high omicron spread (WBUR)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Jeremy Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, wrote a memorandum to Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asking her to give states and municipalities guidance on how to implement short-term restrictions on high-risk activities amid the current COVID-19 surge, in order to prevent hospitals and health systems from becoming overwhelmed.

December 20: Do Not Close the Schools Again (New York Times)

In this opinion piece, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, urged that schools be kept open even while the Omicron variant is causing a surge in COVID-19 cases. “The argument for keeping schools open rests on two constants ever since the Covid pandemic began: The risk of severe outcomes to kids from coronavirus infection is low, and the risks to kids from being out of school are high,” Allen wrote. He recommended that parents get their eligible kids vaccinated, that vaccination be mandated for all adults in schools and day cares, that schools improve ventilation and filtration, and that we stop quarantining entire classrooms when there’s a positive case and instead use so-called “test-to-stay” policies.

December 19: ‘Tuesday is too late’: Health experts urge Biden to move faster amid Omicron threat (Boston Globe)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was among health experts calling for President Biden to take stronger measures to protect the nation against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Hanage criticized some of Biden’s past steps to address the pandemic, such as a plan requiring people to pay upfront for rapid tests and later seek reimbursement from health insurers. He also called for stronger steps to preserve capacity in hospitals and health care systems, such as requiring indoor masking. “It’s a community effort that we need to get going here,” Hanage said.

December 19: ‘Anxiety is high.’ As employers keep delaying return to office, will we ever go back? (Boston Globe)

Growing numbers of businesses and organizations are delaying plans to return to in-person work because of a surge of COVID-19 cases. But Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that science indicates that people can return to work safely, if companies require employees to be vaccinated and ensure that their buildings have proper air filtration systems. Added precautions include measures such as contract tracing, masking, testing, or social distancing, he said.

December 17: Why Is Omicron So Contagious? (Scientific American)

To model Omicron’s global trajectory, scientists are studying both its transmissibility and its ability to evade human immune systems. Untangling how much of each of these two factors contribute to the variant’s spread is “what will allow us to predict how many people Omicron might infect and how fast,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and science director of the CDC’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics.

December 17: Preliminary laboratory data hint at what makes Omicron the most superspreading variant yet (STAT)

Early data suggests that Omicron may cause milder disease in most people than previous versions of SARS-CoV-2. But its high level of transmissibility could mean that it has the potential to infect a large percentage of the population all at once, and such a surge in infections could overwhelm the health care system, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

December 17: What will life with COVID-19 be like in 2022? (TODAY)

Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, was among 10 experts commenting on what to expect from COVID-19 in 2022. He said he expects to see “exponential growth of omicron cases” in the U.S. But he added that increasing the use of rapid testing could help us manage the ongoing pandemic. “If we had easy, cheap and abundant access to rapid tests, those would become part of (our approach to keeping safe around) the holidays or other kinds of events, or to keep kids in schools,” he said.

December 16: Researchers say expect more COVID-19 variants in the new year (WHIO)

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, was quoted.

December 16: The scientist in Botswana who identified Omicron was saddened by the world’s reaction (NPR)

Sikhulile Moyo, research associate in immunology and infectious diseases, whose team at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership helped alert the world to the omicron variant, said he was disappointed about travel bans against southern Africa in the wake of the discovery. “How do you reward the countries that alert you of a potential dangerous pathogen with travel bans?” he asked. “My country was put on a red list, and I didn’t feel good about that.” He added, “We know the repercussions. Flights were canceled, goods were not coming into the country, a lot of businesses lost millions. And our vaccine supply was being threatened because of delays on the way. Quite a trail of destruction.” Moyo urged more equitable distribution of vaccines around the world, which he said would help the pandemic end sooner everywhere.

December 16: Boston’s TD Garden to increase mask enforcement, but one expert says COVID surge could require new restrictions (Boston Globe)

Asaf Bitton, associate professor of health care policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management and executive director of Ariadne Labs, said that the highly transmissible Omicron COVID-19 variant will make it hard to keep Boston’s biggest indoor arena, TD Garden, open to full capacity this winter. “If our hospitals are pressed even more and if there are double the number of cases per day in six weeks, I think it will be untenable to keep a fully packed arena with people munching on popcorn,” he said.

December 15: Opinion: Our playbook to fight COVID-19 is outdated. Here are 10 updates for 2022 (Washington Post)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, offered 10 tips on how to fight COVID-19, including getting a booster shot, doing away with mask mandates and distancing requirements where all people are vaccinated, improving ventilation and filtration indoors, and making rapid antigen tests the gold standard for testing instead of PCR tests.

December 15: Don’t Be Surprised When You Get Omicron (The Atlantic)

Vaccinated people who get a breakthrough COVID-19 infection from the Omicron variant should take all the same steps recommended for any form of the virus, according to experts. “All of the same things stand, whether it’s Delta, Omicron, or any other Greek letter or non-Greek letter of SARS-CoV-2,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “Once you know you’re infected, hang tight, limit your encounters with other people, and just take care of yourself.”

December 15: Let’s Not Be Fatalistic About Omicron. We Know How to Fight It (TIME)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, co-authored this opinion piece calling for worldwide strategies to enhance vaccine equity and access and for  scaling up other protective measures in the face of the Omicron variant.

December 15: A Guide to Mixed-Vaccination-Status Holidays (The Atlantic)

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, was among experts offering advice on how to be safe during the holidays amid the ongoing pandemic.

December 15: New CDC outbreak forecasting center could do for disease what weather service does for meteorology (WBUR’s “Here and Now”)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and science director of the CDC’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, discussed the aims of the new center.

December 14: U.S. Reports 800,000+ Coronavirus Deaths (CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront”)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 “is going to be hitting us pretty hard.” Even though early data suggests that many Omicron-caused cases of COVID-19 are mild, many of those cases are in young people who tend to not get as sick as older or immunocompromised people. “A very large wave could still have pretty grave consequences for a healthcare system, which is teetering because we have just spent two years fighting with a pandemic bear and we are still struggling to recover from that,” Hanage said.

December 14: Without statewide mask mandate against COVID-19, health experts say Mass. will ‘fight this war with one arm tied behind our backs’ (Boston Globe)

Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and Massachusetts public health commissioner, was among several experts calling for a universal mask mandate in Massachusetts to help quell the current COVID-19 surge. Not mandating masks “leaves us continuing to fight this war with one arm tied behind our backs,” Koh said. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, also backed a mask mandate. “Past time,” he said. “Way past time.”

December 13: The Miracle Workers (TIME Magazine)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, was named one of four “heroes of the year” for 2021 by TIME magazine for helping develop the mRNA-based vaccine platform that enabled the creation of innovative and highly effective COVID-19 vaccines.

December 12: Women lost decades of progress after COVID — Roe’s repeal would erase more (The Hill)

In this opinion piece, Dean Michelle Williams argued that rolling back abortion rights—currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court—would threaten the health, security and dignity of women in the U.S., at a time when women and girls are facing unprecedented levels of violence and inequities. Wrote Williams, “Women must have access to the health care they need — free of coercion, discrimination and violence — if they are to live to their fullest potential. I’ve said before and will repeat as long as it needs to be said: Women must control their bodies to control their health, their economic prospects and their life trajectory.”

December 11: The omicron variant is fueling misinformation about COVID. Experts explain why and how to spot false claims. (USA Today)

False claims about COVID-19 could include vague language, emotional appeals, and facts that seem too good to be true, according to Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow.

December 10: Coping With COVID in the Holidays (Living on Earth)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, discussed best practices for keeping safe during the holidays at work, in school, and during travel.

December 10: Antiviral treatments should work well against Omicron, experts say (Medical Xpress)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, quoted

December 9: Scientists race to define Omicron threat, worried about ‘surge upon a surge’ (Harvard Gazette )

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that he expects the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus to overtake the Delta variant, currently the dominant strain, in the U.S. in six to eight weeks.

December 8: How a COVID Home Test Works and When to Use One (AARP)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, offered advice on rapid COVID tests, such as when to use them and how to decide which test to buy.

December 8: COVID Booster Cuts Death Rate by 90%, Israeli Study Finds (HealthDay)

Booster doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine appear to offer strong protection against the Delta variant, according to recent data. Boosters may also protect against Omicron, but it’s not clear how much. Even so, Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that you shouldn’t delay getting a booster shot in the hopes that drug companies will develop a new vaccine aimed at Omicron. “I would highly recommend getting one now, because by the time we formulate an Omicron-specific vaccine and get it approved and get the supply ramped up enough to administer to everyone who wants it, Omicron will have already done what it’s going to do,” he said.

December 7: 3 things vaccinated individuals can do to reduce their COVID-19 risk this holiday season (Boston.com)

To protect from the coronavirus, Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, recommends getting a COVID-19 booster, ventilating indoor spaces, and getting tested with a rapid test before gatherings and before and after travel.

December 7: Harvard researcher bracing for big variant surge (Boston25)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, is expecting a “surge within a surge” this winter as the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 spreads along with the already-surging Delta variant.

December 6: Former NIH Covid Vaccine Leader to Fight New Threats at Harvard (Bloomberg Law)

Kizzmekia Corbett, who led the NIH team that designed the COVID-19 vaccine and is now an assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, discussed what the public should expect nearly two years into the pandemic, what she’s working on now, and why she took on her own public outreach efforts to get people vaccinated.

December 6: ‘Everything is on the table’: Wu announces free COVID tests, masks, and vaccination clinics to combat new phase of pandemic (Boston Globe)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s plan to distribute rapid COVID-19 tests in neighborhoods with high rates of COVID-19 “is exactly the sort of thing we need.” This article also noted that Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, has been named to a new 17-member board to advise the city of Boston on its COVID-19 response.

December 6: Scholz Names Harvard Medical Expert to Oversee German Pandemic Policy (Bloomberg Quint)

Karl Lauterbach, adjunct professor of health policy and management, has been named Germany’s health minister under incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz.

December 6: Infectious disease expert says to expects another COVID surge in Mass. as holidays approach (WBUR’s Morning Edition)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said he expects a spike in COVID-19 cases this winter. “Like other coronaviruses and other respiratory viruses, SARS-COV-2 is a seasonal respiratory virus, and so it spreads a lot more easily in the wintertime, especially up here in the north,” he said. He recommended that, when in indoor spaces, people should wear masks and keep gatherings small.

December 4: Omicron’s speed of change worries director of Harvard lab in Botswana (Boston Globe)

Sikhulile Moyo, director at the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory and a research associate in immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, the scientist who first detected the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, discussed details about the variant at a recent press briefing.

December 3: Making COVID-19 vaccinations a family affair can protect against omicron: Analysis (ABC News)

“No matter how transmissible or evasive the omicron variant turns out to be, our best defense right now is a fully vaccinated public,” according to this analysis co-authored by Rebecca Weintraub, associate faculty member and director of the Better Evidence program at Ariadne Labs. The authors urged increasing vaccine access for kids and adolescents, streamlining the appointment process, promoting vaccination, and lessening barriers to vaccination. “Now is the time for a renewed focus on vaccinating all generations,” they wrote.

December 3: Scientists say sequencing is vital to staying ahead of Omicron variant (Fox23)

Increasing sequencing efforts globally will be crucial in tracking the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus as well as other future variants, according to Sikhulile Moyo, director at the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory and a research associate in immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School. Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, was also quoted.

December 2: Grappling with an uncertain reality as omicron and covid’s third year approach (Washington Post)

Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, offered advice on how to manage uncertainty and fear as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. “Adjusting our expectations to account for unpredictability, uncontrollability and the fact that our lives may be disrupted on and off, and building that into our expectations, would be good for our mental health,” she said.

December 2: New Harvard study declares winner between Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (The Hill)

The Moderna vaccine is slightly better than the Pfizer vaccine, according to a recent Harvard Chan School study.

December 2: Harvard study: Vaccinated people with COVID-19 may be infectious for a shorter period of time (Boston.com)

Breakthrough cases are infectious for two days less than cases in unvaccinated individuals, according to a new Harvard Chan School study. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and co-author of the study, was quoted.

December 1: Opinion: For a healthier world, empower nurses (Devex)

Dean Michelle Williams and Stephanie Ferguson, visiting fellow in the Department of Health Policy and Management and director of the Harvard Global Nursing Leadership Program, argued that it’s essential to rebuild the nursing workforce in order to safeguard health and economies. They recommended increasing educational opportunities and leadership possibilities for nurses and boosting the size of the nursing workforce.

December 1: Omicron ‘astonishing to behold,’ says Hanage (Harvard Gazette)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, shared early impressions of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, which spread rapidly in South Africa in November and was later detected in several other nations. “This has the capacity to be quite serious, but that doesn’t mean the sky is falling,” he said. “We are still in the process of learning a lot more—and we are not going to know it overnight.”

December 1: What J&J Can Still Teach Us (The Atlantic)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, who helped developed Moderna’s vaccine, quoted.

December 1: Pandemic reveals depth of children’s mental health needs (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, said that “the rates of mental health problems among kids, particularly depression and anxiety, have doubled during the pandemic.” Behavior problems among children and substance abuse among teens are also on the rise, she noted.

November 30: ‘There’s no need for lockdown’: Biden, health officials urge caution not panic as world learns more about Omicron (Boston Globe)

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, said that the emergence of the omicron coronavirus variant makes clear the global nature of the pandemic. “This pandemic started as a global crisis, and it will be resolved as a global phenomenon as well,” she said. “The reality is that the more cases of COVID, the more opportunity for the virus to mutate.”

November 30: What four experts are saying about Omicron, the new COVID variant (Boston Globe)

Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, quoted.

November 30: CAA Launches Interactive Community For Health Care Workers (Leak Herald)

Dean Michelle Williams quoted.

November 29: How a Harvard-affiliated lab in Botswana became the first to identify the Omicron variant (Boston Globe)

Sikhulile Moyo, director at the Botswana Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory and a research associate in immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, described his role in identifying the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

November 29: 4 big questions about the new omicron variant (Vox)

More data is needed to better understand the potential threat from the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, say experts. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and adjunct professor of global health at Harvard Chan School, were quoted.

November 29: New variant raising concern, but not panic, ahead of holidays (Boston25 News)

Roger Shapiro, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases, noted that current vaccines are likely to offer some protection against serious symptoms of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus. “But we really don’t know yet,” he said. “It’s just still too early to say with this particular variant, because it really does have a large number of mutations and it’s quite different than the Delta variant.”

November 29: What We Know (And Don’t Know) About The Omicron Variant (Consider This from NPR)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed the new omicron coronavirus variant, which has “a very large number of mutations, way more than what you’d expect.” He added, “We’re still scrambling trying to figure out what sort of beast we’re dealing with.”

November 29: Keeping an eye on Omicron (Harvard Gazette)

Mary Bushman, postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and co-author of a recent paper that modeled the impact of hypothetical variants on populations, answered questions about the latest variant, Omicron.

November 28: The office monitor workers will find more common in the Covid era is surveilling the air (CNBC)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, discussed his research that found that office workers’ performance improved when the air quality in their offices was better. Now, companies are increasingly looking to improve indoor air quality. “We should expect clean air in our offices, just as we expect to have clean water coming out of the tap,” said Allen.

November 27: Does omicron pose a risk to the vaccinated? Too early to tell, epidemiologist says (NPR’s All Things Considered)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that, right now, there’s much we don’t know about the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, such as how transmissible it is and whether it can sidestep vaccine-generated or natural immunity to the virus. “That uncertainty is something which a lot of people find it hard to deal with,” he said. “But unfortunately, it’s part of living through a pandemic.”

November 26: Zimbabwean-born Scientist Credited With Discovery Of New Coronavirus Variant (Pindula)

Sikhulile Moyo, laboratory director at the Botswana Harvard Partnership and a research associate in immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School, and his team were the first to sequence B.1.1.529, or Omicron, the newest variant of the novel coronavirus.

November 26: New Virus Variant Stokes Concern but Vaccines Still Likely to Work (New York Times)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that even if the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, proves to be more transmissible than other variants, it’s likely that vaccines will still protect against it, both by slowing the virus’ spread and reducing the likelihood that infected people will need hospitalization.

November 26: What to know about the omicron variant of the coronavirus (Washington Post)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus “is certainly a curveball. But exactly how serious it is remains to be seen.”

November 26: How variants like omicron develop and what makes them variants ‘of concern’ (NBC News)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the major concerns about the omicron variant is that it appears to be at least as transmissible as the delta variant, and has a large number of mutations in the crucial spike protein, which is targeted by vaccines.

November 26: Biden’s Response To Omicron Covid Variant Underscores Best Practices For Managing A Crisis (Forbes)

The new omicron variant of the coronavirus “raises concerns though it is not time to panic,” said Eric McNulty, associate director of Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and an instructor at Harvard Chan School. “We do not yet know a lot. People should take a deep breath and listen to the scientists.”

November 24: Is it time to get serious about masking inside again in Massachusetts? (Boston Globe)

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Massachusetts, experts say it would be wise to return to indoor masking in public spaces. “In this long and protracted COVID battle, prematurely loosening mask requirements has allowed the enemy virus to continue to wreak havoc,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and Massachusetts public health commissioner. “Until the pandemic is declared behind us, all options about strengthening indoor mask guidance should be back on the table.”

November 22: New UMass Amherst/WCVB poll on children being vaccinated against COVID-19 (WCVB)

A new poll found that a strong majority of Massachusetts parents would support a vaccine mandate for children in K-12 schools. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, noted that kids are going to be exposed to what the coronavirus looks like either from the vaccine or from the virus itself. “We know from all the data that we have available that exposing them through the vaccine is still the safer option,” he said.

November 22: COVID Variant That Spreads Easily, Evades Vaccines Could Have ‘Severe Consequences’: Study (Newsweek)

COVID-19 variants that are more transmissible are more dangerous than those that could partially evade vaccines, according to a new Harvard Chan School study. Co-author Mary Bushman, postdoctoral research fellow, was quoted.

November 22: The Trouble With the Case Curve During the Holidays (New York Times)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, commented on fluctuations that show up in data about COVID-19 cases.

November 22: Inside the C.D.C.’s Pandemic ‘Weather Service’ (New York Times)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and  director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, was quoted in this article about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, for which he is director of science. Lipsitch discussed the Center’s work, which will involve collecting data and improving models regarding the spread of infectious diseases.

November 21: Nightly News Full Broadcast (November 21st) (NBC News) (Segment with Harvard Chan School’s Stephen Kissler at 8:10)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, was interviewed about staying safe from COVID-19 during Thanksgiving. “We’re planning to take a rapid test the morning of [the holiday],” he said of his own celebration. “Since we’re all vaccinated, it definitely helps, but it’s still possible for people to have breakthrough infections and to spread infection to others.”

November 21: Is Delta the last Covid ‘super variant’? (The Guardian)

Scientists are worried that the Delta variant of the coronavirus, now dominant across the globe, could be overtaken by an even more dangerous variant. With high levels of the virus continuing to circulate, the chances increase that dangerous new variants will emerge, according to experts. “You want to limit the number of opportunities that the virus gets to roll the dice,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

November 21: Thanksgiving health and safety (CBS News)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed ways to spend Thanksgiving together safely this year, including being vaccinated, taking rapid tests, gathering outdoors, and opening windows.

November 19: ‘Still in a purgatory.’ COVID numbers have risen in Mass. ahead of holidays and winter weather (Boston Globe)

COVID-19 cases are increasing in Massachusetts. “We are still in a purgatory, unfortunately, and no one wants to hear it, but we have to double down on our public health commitment,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health and former assistant U.S. secretary of health and Massachusetts public health commissioner.

November 19: Long COVID sufferers face physical pain, physician skepticism (Harvard Gazette)

Patient advocates and health care experts gathered virtually at Harvard Chan School to discuss how best to address the debilitating symptoms of long COVID.

November 19: COVID and mental health stress: No one is immune, says Harvard professor, ex-WHO expert (Providence Journal)

Shekhar Saxena, professor of the practice of global mental health, was a guest on “Story in the Public Square,” a national public-TV and SiriusXM show that is a partnership of the Providence Journal/USA Today network and Salve Regina University’s Pell Center. He spoke about how the COVID pandemic has affected the mental health of millions around the world, and about the importance of talking openly about mental health struggles and seeking professional help if necessary.

November 19: Experts Advise Caution Around At-Risk Individuals During Holiday Gatherings (CBS News)

“If you take some pretty simple steps, you can actually get together with your family indoors without a mask” this holiday season, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He added, “If you’re going to a Thanksgiving party with older, vulnerable relatives, I do encourage you to make sure that you’re vaccinated, to try to avoid becoming infected in the runup, and to take a rapid test before you get in there.”

November 17: Overdose deaths hit record high during pandemic (CBS Evening News)

“The pandemic has been in many ways a perfect storm,” driving up drug addiction, according to Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management. “We have a lot of work to do to expand access to lifesaving treatments like naloxone or buprenorphine, which can really save lives in addiction, but are not widely available for people that need them.”

November 17: Callers to global helplines voiced similar pandemic worries (ABC News)

Callers to helplines during the pandemic focused on fears of infection, loneliness, and physical health, according to a new analysis. Karestan Koenen, professor of psychiatric epidemiology, who was not involved in the study, said that analyzing helpline data is “an incredibly creative way to assess mental health in the pandemic.”

November 15: School of Public Health Panel Discusses Current State of Covid-19 Pandemic (Harvard Crimson)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, were among experts discussing the pandemic at a recent forum. Corbett emphasized the safety of the vaccine for young children. Hanage said that while “we cannot be sure” of the future of COVID-19, it’s likely that people will continue to get sick and die, but in far smaller numbers.

November 12: COVID-19 infections appear to be creeping up again in Massachusetts (Boston.com)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that COVID-19 cases are “plateauing, rather than disappearing” in Massachusetts. “We’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “Even if we’re in a less woody part of the woods, we’re not out of the woods yet.”

November 12: When can kids take off their masks in school? Here’s what some experts say (NPR)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was among a number of experts offering opinions on when children can take their masks off in schools. He thinks the masks can come off on January 1, 2022, once younger children have a chance to get vaccinated.

November 9: Lessons from COVID-19 for the next pandemic: We need better data on workplace transmission (The Conversation)

In this op-ed, Letitia Davis, a research epidemiologist and an instructor at Harvard Chan School, and co-authors argued that, during the pandemic, public health agencies around the world failed to collect the information needed to truly understand the role of work and workplaces in the spread of the virus. “Without better work data about people who have tested positive, we remain in the dark about where and how to target prevention measures for a potentially important route of transmission,” they wrote.

November 9: ‘Mask Up, America’ Made Sense in 2020. Now? Not So Much. (Washington Post)

With the menace of COVID-19 subsiding, some experts are suggesting that mask mandates don’t always make sense any more. Said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, “This isn’t about whether masks work … but we now have other tools in place.”

November 8: Not all Covid waves look the same. Here’s a snapshot of the Delta surge (STAT)

Geography and vaccination status have been playing a key role in who’s getting seriously ill from COVID-19 in the U.S. “We’re seeing this kind of percolation of the virus, flaring up in unvaccinated networks, and then tricking through the vaccinated ones,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He noted that “unvaccinated people tend to hang out with each other. And that means that you’ve got sort of stuttering transmission chains, which occasionally blow up.”

November 8: Pfizer-BioNTech expected to seek authorization for coronavirus booster for people 18 and older (Washington Post)

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’s vaccine advisory committee, quoted.

November 6: Healthy buildings can help stop Covid-19 spread and boost worker productivity (CNBC)

Improving air in office buildings can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases as well as improve cognitive function, according to Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “I don’t think business people realize the power of buildings to not only keep people safe from disease but to lead to better performance,” he said.

November 4: HSPH Prof. Awarded Federal Employee of the Year for Developing Moderna Vaccine (Harvard Crimson)

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases, was honored for her work developing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine while she was a researcher at the National Institutes of Health.

November 4: With COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, a chance to promote health equity across all ages (Boston Globe)

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-old children should be designed with equity and caregiver support at the forefront, in order to prevent racial disparities in vaccination, wrote Monica Wang, adjunct associate professor of health policy and management, in this opinion piece.

November 3: Some Schools Are Dropping Mask Mandates. Should Yours? (Education Week)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, thinks it’s time for a more nuanced approach to mask policy, given that COVID-19 case rates are dropping and vaccines are becoming available for all school-age groups. “We need to have these conversations,” he said. “We can’t keep mask mandates in place indefinitely as a solution to this pandemic.”

November 3: COVID vaccines for kids are coming – and so is more misinformation (KUNC)

With the FDA’s approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11 years old, experts expect a wave of misinformation from anti-vaccine activists and conspiracy theorists. Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, said that parents shouldn’t trust social media but someone knowledgeable and trustworthy—like their family physician—to help them answer any questions they have about the vaccines.

November 3: Analysis-Country by country, scientists eye beginning of an end to the COVID-19 pandemic (Reuters)

Experts think that COVID-19 will likely transition to an endemic disease in 2022 and beyond, with timelines varying across the globe. “The transition is going to be different in each place because it’s going to be driven by the amount of immunity in the population from natural infection and of course, vaccine distribution, which is variable … from county by county to country by country,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and  director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, and director of science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics.

November 3: Preventing future pandemics starts with recognizing links between human and animal health (The Conversation)

Two researchers who serve on a science task force convened by Harvard Chan School, the Harvard Global Health Institute, and Harvard Chan C-CHANGE, wrote that preventing future pandemics requires understanding how human behaviors, such as deforestation, fossil fuel combustion, and conflict, contribute to the risk of viruses spilling over from animals to humans.

November 2: Covid-19 and Climate Change: Crises of Structural Racism (Science Direct)

An editorial co-authored by James Healy, MPH ’21, and Gaurab Basu, a health equity fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (C-CHANGE), contends that any solution that addresses the health crisis of climate change must primarily be grounded in addressing structural racism.

November 2: Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan (Twin Cities PBS)

Public health expert, surgeon, and writer Atul Gawande, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, reflected on his personal and professional experiences with dying patients.

November 2: Why scientists worldwide are watching UK COVID infections (Nature)

Scientists are closely watching the COVID-19 situation in the U.K., which is relying on high vaccine coverage and public responsibility to control the spread of the disease. Some experts think that the country’s ongoing high level of infections will continue as long as most COVID-19 restrictions remain lifted, although the country’s COVID-19 death rate is relatively low. Said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, “The amount of infection that is currently going on in the U.K would be expected to have much worse consequences if replicated elsewhere.”

November 1: America Has Lost the Plot on COVID (The Atlantic)

The U.S. doesn’t have a coherent strategy for dealing with endemic COVID-19, according to experts. “This is the point at which we then have to start looking at ourselves and asking the hard question: Exactly how hard do we want to work to help how many people?” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. Added Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, “We’re sleepwalking into policy because we’re not setting goals.”

November 1: No easy answers for parents about COVID vaccines for children under 12 (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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’s vaccine advisory committee, quoted.

November 1: Global Covid-19 Death Toll Tops Five Million (Wall Street Journal)

The huge death toll from COVID-19 shows that the threat the virus poses to public health hasn’t been exaggerated. “The tendency to underestimate the virus has been a crucial factor in the road to this point,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

October 31: As Covid-19 deaths cross 5 million, hope for a battered world (The Straits Times)

Access to vaccines and therapeutics could help contain the COVID-19 pandemic going forward, but some countries will do better than others, according to experts. Noted Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, “Countries with excess vaccines must share them with other parts of the world and must build capacity for producing accessible vaccines in underprivileged parts of the globe,” he said. “If we are going to keep this virus at bay, we must do so as a global community.”

October 31: Diet-related diseases pose a major risk for Covid-19. But the U.S. overlooks them. (Politico)

Studies suggest obesity, diabetes, and hypertension lead to worse COVID-19 outcomes, but the U.S., unlike some other countries, has not been taking steps to encourage healthier lifestyles or limit access to unhealthy food. Jerold Mande, adjunct professor of nutrition, said that successive administrations’ lack of a strong push for diet-related efforts to reduce Americans’ risk of chronic health conditions suggests that “we’re not serious” about addressing the problem.

October 29: Ecuadorian scientists face long prison sentences in politically charged case over COVID-19 tests (Science)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was quoted about the quality of COVID-19 tests that are at the center of a criminal case involving two Ecuadorian scientists.

October 29: Experts urge parents to get kids vaccinated against COVID-19, say their own kids will get shots (Boston Globe)

Federal regulators could approve a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 as early as the week of Nov. 8. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was among a number of experts saying they will definitely have their children get the vaccine. “My 9 year old will be getting the vaccine on the first day we can,” he tweeted. “No hesitation.”

October 28: Public health messaging lessons for the next pandemic (Axios)

As scientific knowledge about the coronavirus has rapidly changed over the course of the pandemic, public health agencies have struggled to keep up and to effectively communicate the uncertainties to the public. “What people need to understand is that science is ever-changing and mutable,” said Kasisomayajula “Vish” Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication. “All knowledge is partial knowledge, and [the pandemic] is an illustration of that.”

October 27: An FDA adviser said we need to give kids vaccines to fully understand their safety. Here’s the crucial context. (Washington Post)

This article described how the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee weighed the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5-11, ultimately recommending emergency use authorization of the vaccines. 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 advisory committee, was quoted.

October 27: Should I Mix or Match My Booster Shot? (New York Times)

Asaf Bitton, associate professor of health care policy in the Department of Health Policy and Management and executive director of Ariadne Labs, was one of several experts offering advice for eligible adults on which COVID-19 booster shot to get.

October 25: Harvard professors warn that war-torn countries will miss global vaccine goals in 2022 (Harvard Gazette)

Countries in conflict will not meet the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 70% of their populations against COVID-19 by mid-2022, according to experts who spoke at a Harvard Chan School panel. One of the panelists, Madeline Drexler, visiting scientist at Harvard Chan and former editor of Harvard Public Health magazine, said that the biggest hurdle is a vaccine shortage. She added that misinformation, political lies, and the anti-vaccine movement have made it tougher to administer vaccines in conflict zones.

October 24: How Puerto Rico became the most vaccinated place in America (CNN)

Experts advising Puerto Rico’s government say that the island’s high vaccination rate—just over 73%—may be due to the fact that vaccination wasn’t politicized and that people felt the urgent need to avoid another catastrophe, having recently been through hurricanes, earthquakes, and political and fiscal crises. Rafael Irizarry, professor of biostatistics, half-joked that Puerto Rico’s many drugstores may have helped. “There is a Walgreens on like every corner,” he said. “Everywhere you go, they have everything you need. Rum. Coffee. You get your fireworks and then you go get a vaccine.”

October 23: How Public Health Took Part in Its Own Downfall (The Atlantic)

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, quoted.

October 22: Without firm school mask mandate deadlines, ‘we can sleepwalk into indefinite masking,’ says Harvard professor (CNBC)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, called for setting deadlines for lifting masking requirements in schools, especially as U.S. drug regulators are poised to authorize COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged 5 to 11.

October 22: Pfizer’s COVID vaccine appears safe and effective for children 5-11, new data shows (USA Today)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted

October 21: New study reveals why Provincetown did not become a COVID super-spreader event (Boston Globe)

Cape Cod’s high COVID-19 vaccination rate and quick public health measures likely prevented an outbreak in Provincetown over the summer from erupting into many more infections, according to a new study. Co-authors of the study included Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases, and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

October 2o: President Biden: It’s time for an urgent and effective plan to vaccinate the world (The Hill)

Dean Michelle Williams co-authored this opinion piece calling on President Biden to significantly step up efforts to boost global vaccine coverage. The authors urged Biden to donate hundreds of millions more doses to lower-income countries; permit COVAX (a global partnership to accelerate fair access to COVID-19 vaccines) and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to move ahead of the U.S. in COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers’ queues; boost funding for COVAX; scale up vaccine production in the U.S. and around the world; provide support for vaccine delivery and administration infrastructure in LMICs; and spearhead a shared global plan to achieve at least 80% vaccination around the world.

October 20: How States Could Reach Herd Immunity As Delta Variant Continues To Dominate (Newsweek)

Some state officials say their states may be close to reaching herd immunity against COVID-19, as their populations are reaching 70% or higher vaccination rates. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted, “In general I would be very cautious about using the term ‘herd immunity.’ People interpret it as a finish line, and think it means that the virus is then eradicated or eliminated. But that’s not accurate.” He noted that “while vaccines make the consequences of [COVID-19] much less severe, infections in at-risk individuals can still be serious.”

October 19: Opinion: Schools should do away with mask mandates by the end of the year (Washington Post)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, called for setting a firm date for ending masking in schools, since COVID-19 poses low risk to children and vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds are expected soon.

October 19: Black and Latino families are bearing the weight of the pandemic’s economic toll (NPR’s Morning Edition)

Over the last few months, more than 55% of Black and Latino households reported serious financial problems compared with 29% of white households, in a poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard Chan School.

October 18: Plan to increase U.S. COVID testing at home (Scripps National News)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, discussed how to use rapid COVID-19 tests most effectively. “You have to test with them more frequently and closer to an event that you’re interested in going to, so you would want to test the morning of going to school, or the morning of a gathering,” he said.

October 18: The coronavirus is still mutating. But will that matter? ‘We need to keep the respect for this virus.’ (Washington Post)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was among experts who warned that the coronavirus could continue to develop new mutations that make it more dangerous. “We’d have to be idiots to think the virus is done with us, and it will continue to evolve,” he said.

October 15: Reimagining our pandemic problems with the mindset of an engineer (Technology Review)

Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard Chan School, is director of science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. He noted that the center’s philosophy “is to improve decision-making under uncertainty, by reducing that uncertainty with better analyses and better data, but also by acknowledging what is not known, and communicating that and its consequences clearly.”

October 14: Telehealth has been vital during COVID, but most people still prefer in-person care (NPR’s Morning Edition)

New polling data from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard Chan School shows that while a large majority of those using telehealth during the pandemic were satisfied, nearly two-thirds prefer in-person visits.

October 14: F.D.A. Panel Recommends Booster for Many Moderna Vaccine Recipients (New York 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 a booster for many Moderna vaccine recipients, commented on the panel’s decision.

October 14: Biden needs to make rapid home COVID tests easily available | USA TODAY Editorial Board (USA Today)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, quoted.

October 14: With hospitals crowded from COVID, 1 in 5 American families delays health care (NPR)

Many Americans are facing delays in getting health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard Chan School. Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, who helped run the poll, said, “The numbers were much greater than we expected, and the delta variant changed what was going on.” He added, “This is the United States. You don’t expect people with serious illnesses to say they cannot be seen for care.”

October 14: COVID-19 vaccination all the more important with pending ‘winter wave’ (KCBS)

Health officials should be focusing on disseminating COVID-19 booster shots to older adults—who are most at risk from the disease, even if vaccinated—and on vaccinating younger people, especially kids in school, because they can spread the virus, according to Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

October 14: Covid: Lateral flow tests more accurate than first thought, study finds (BBC)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was part of a research team that found that rapid COVID-19 tests were more than 80% effective at detecting any level of COVID-19 infection and likely to be more than 90% effective at detecting who is most infectious when they use the test. Mina said that rapid tests could “catch nearly everyone who is currently a serious risk to public health.”

October 12: Rapid tests can make it easier to gather safely for the holidays (Boston Globe)

The availability of rapid COVID-19 tests, which correctly identify when a person is infectious about 98% of the time, should make family gatherings safer during the holidays this year, according to Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “Alongside vaccination, they [the rapid tests] can be one of the most important new elements of our ability to stay safe and socialize with confidence,” he said.

October 12: Harvard Immunologist Champions At-Home Covid Tests to Beat the Pandemic (Bloomberg)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, said that the U.S. should be making low-cost, rapid tests readily available to consumers.

October 12: Covid-19 Rapid Testing at Home Will Get Easier, but Test Wisely (Wall Street Journal)

This article discussed why rapid testing for COVID-19 is important and when and how to make use of the tests. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was quoted.

October 12: Should Passengers Be Vaccinated or Tested to Fly Within the U.S.? (New York Times)

Many airline executives are opposed to COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for domestic air travelers in the U.S. They say that instituting such requirements would be complicated and would create long airport lines, and that flying is safe during the pandemic. Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative, acknowledged that that establishing a system to check vaccination and testing would be complicated, but added, “I do believe we should get to the point where we have those mechanics.”

October 10: On Mental Health Day: How Do We Learn to Live With the Pandemic? (FIT)

In this podcast, Vikram Patel, professor in the Department of Global Health and Population, spoke about inequalities and how the pandemic widened the gap. He pointed out the need for universal income and universal medical coverage as essential for better mental health outcomes in societies.

October 8: Why Covid-19 testing went so wrong in the US, and what to do now (Knowable Magazine)

In this video, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases, discussed the problems with COVID-19 testing in the U.S., including delays and errors in producing and distributing tests at the beginning of the pandemic and a continuing deficit in access to frequent, rapid tests.

October 7: Biden, Awaiting an OSHA Rule, Urges Companies to Require Vaccinations (New York Times)

President Biden’s mandate that all companies with more than 100 workers require vaccination or weekly testing, issued in September, will likely not take effect for several weeks. In the meantime, he is encouraging private companies to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for employees. Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, noted, “I know a couple big companies that are ready to hit send on the email to all employees, and they’re waiting for this thing to come out. If they’re going to spend the next two months getting the wording absolutely 100 percent on the rule-making, it defeats the purpose.”

October 7: Biden’s investment in rapid Covid-19 tests is a good start, but not nearly enough, experts say (CNN)

President Biden recently announced that the U.S. government would spend an additional $1 billion to get more at-home rapid COVID-19 tests into the market. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, called the move “a good start” but said he would like to see a plan to bring more inexpensive tests to the market right away. “We need the world’s tests available in the US today,” he said. “We needed them a year ago. We don’t have a moment to waste.”

October 7: How the risk of Covid-19 for kids compares to other dangers (Vox)

Research suggests that COVID-19 poses a relatively low risk to children, even with the Delta variant circulating. In addition, children’s natural defenses against the coronavirus may help boost overall population immunity, according to Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “Over time, as SARS-CoV-2 becomes an endemic virus, basically everybody is going to get exposed to it multiple times by the time they turn 5 or 10,” he said. This repeated exposure can build up people’s immunity, which could eventually turn the virus into something more like the common cold or seasonal flu.

October 7: With Masks On or Off, Schools Try to Find the New Normal (New York Times)

Schools across the U.S. are trying to figure out how to manage COVID-19 moving forward, including debating how long to continue masking. What’s causing all the confusion, the infighting, the disagreement—it’s really a lack of goal setting,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “Zero Covid in schools? Well, that may not be possible.”

October 7: White House buys $1B in at-home COVID tests (Cox Media Group)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was quoted.

October 7: Here’s what you need to know about rapid, at-home coronavirus tests (Boston Globe)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, was quoted.

October 7: Why, When and How to Test At-Home for COVID-19 (TIME Magazine)

Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, discussed the importance of using rapid COVID-19 tests to identify when people are infectious and most likely to spread the disease to others.

October 6: White House announces $1 billion purchase of rapid, at-home coronavirus tests (Washington Post)

A Biden administration plan to buy $1 billion worth of rapid COVID-19 tests will quadruple the number of such tests available to Americans by December. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, who has long pushed for more rapid tests in the U.S. market, was quoted.

October 6: The stages of pandemic emotion: from horror to hope to rage — and now, an anxious optimism (STAT)

Experts say that, in spite of overall declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the U.S., it’s tough to predict how the fall and winter will play out, given that there remain significant pockets of unvaccinated people. Some think that the country is making a slow exit from the epidemic phase and a gradual entry to the endemic phase, when the virus will still circulate, but at levels that society can tolerate. Said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, “We’ve still got a little work left to do, but my hope is that we’re approaching something ever closer to normalcy.”

October 6: Experts weigh in on when the public health emergency should end (Washington Post)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, was one of several experts commenting on how long the U.S. should be under a public health emergency because of the pandemic. He noted, “I wouldn’t call it a restriction by any means, but one thing that should not go away is higher ventilation and better filtration. Healthy buildings should be the norm going forward, not the exception.”

October 5: Merck sells federally financed Covid pill to U.S. for 40 times what it costs to make (The Intercept)

Melissa Barber, a doctoral candidate in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Global Health and Population, co-authored a report showing that the drug company Merck plans to significantly mark up the price of their new COVID-19 pill when they sell it to the U.S. government.

October 5: Get vaccinated and start eating better. It could save your life. (Washington Post)

A recent study co-authored by Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist and professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard Chan School, found a significant correlation between healthy eating and a reduced risk of severe COVID-19. Other studies have reached similar conclusions. “We understand, of course, that the most important interventions we have for prevention of COVID is vaccines and appropriate masking in crowded indoor settings, but there are still opportunities for prevention that involve healthy foods,” he said.

October 5: How mRNA Vaccine Platforms Unlocks the Potential for Universal Vaccines (Vice)

Developing vaccines is now faster and easier than ever before because of mRNA platforms, which can be tailored to attack specific viruses in a matter of days or even hours. Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, was quoted from Harvard Chan School’s “Better Off” podcast. She said that mRNA vaccines are safer than vaccines that use small amounts of a live virus. She also noted that researchers had been working on mRNA platforms for decades, which is why manufacturers were able to produce vaccines so quickly after SARS-CoV-2 appeared.

October 4: Why Are Americans Still—Still!—Wearing Cloth Masks? (The Atlantic)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was one of several experts questioning Americans’ wide use of cloth masks, since some studies suggest that surgical masks are more effective at protecting against COVID-19.

October 4: Signs of encouragement as US sees drop in Covid cases and hospitalizations (The Guardian)

Experts said that while they don’t expect another coronavirus surge in the U.S. as big as previous ones during the pandemic, the virus remains a significant threat due to the large number of people who still haven’t been vaccinated and the risk of a new variant. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was quoted.

October 3: Employers Have Been Offering the Wrong Office Amenities (The Atlantic)

In this Ideas piece, Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, wrote that workplaces need more fresh air, both to minimize the amount of dangerous viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 in indoor spaces and to reduce air pollutants that can harm health and decrease cognitive function.

October 2: Florida, Texas Account for More Than 30 Percent of U.S. COVID Deaths in Past Three Months (Newsweek)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, was quoted.

October 2: Is trick-or-treating safe? How to celebrate Halloween amid the COVID-19 pandemic (USA Today)

Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, offered tips on safe trick-or-treating.

October 1: Rapid Tests Are the Answer to Living With Covid-19 (New York Times)

In this opinion piece, Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology, and Stephen Phillips of the COVID Collaborative argued that President Biden should take executive action to change the U.S. regulatory structure to help bring more rapid COVID-19 tests into the U.S. market. They wrote that “the White House should also treat rapid testing with the same urgency and private sector partnership approach that Operation Warp Speed pioneered for vaccines.” They noted that, “for public health purposes, we need fast, accessible tests that answer the question, ‘Am I infectious now?’ Rapid tests can help prevent spread to your child, spouse, friend, colleague, classmate or the stranger sitting next to you at dinner.”