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

November 22: A new coronavirus variant has taken over, sparking concerns of a winter surge (Boston Globe)

The BQ.1.1 variant—an offshoot of Omicron that appears to be among the best coronavirus variants yet at evading antibody immunity—is now the predominant version circulating in Massachusetts. Although the new variant could be dangerous for immunocompromised people and those who develop severe infections, it is unlikely to pose a serious health threat to most, experts said. “The huge majority of vaccinated people have no particular reason to be anxious about BQ.1.1,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

November 21: Coronavirus variants are dodging antibody treatments. New lab-made options may help. (Washington Post)

As COVID-19 has mutated, monoclonal antibodies—which millions of Americans have been relying on to fight the virus—have become largely ineffective. “I would say it’s a big problem,” said Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management.

November 21: How infectious disease experts are responding to Covid nearly three years in (STAT News)

Even though many people appear to have given up trying to avoid COVID, most of the 34 experts quoted in this article said they are still taking precautions. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was among those quoted.

November 17: Ten lessons from COVID: A round-up of experts (PLOS Blogs)

If there’s another pandemic, we should emphasize sharing vaccines across the globe, boosting wastewater monitoring and genomic surveillance, and paying more attention to social determinants of health, according to experts quoted in this article. Among those quoted were experts from Harvard Chan School who spoke at a recent panel on preventing the next pandemic: Sikhulile Moyo, laboratory director of the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership and a research associate in the Harvard Chan School Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases; and Satchit Balsari, assistant professor of global health and population.

November 11: New omicron variants now dominant in the U.S., raising fears of a winter surge (NPR)

Two new subvariants of Omicron—called BQ.1 and BQ.1.1—appear to be the most adept yet at evading immunity from COVID-19 conferred by vaccines and previous infections. “The U.S. is going to see a winter surge in COVID infections,” predicted William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “And I think that if nothing else changes BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are likely to be very significant players.”

November 10: Masks Cut Covid Spread in Schools, Study Finds (New York Times)

A Harvard Chan School study found that masking mandates were linked with significantly reduced numbers of COVID cases in schools. “We saw sustained, increased rates of COVID incidence consistently in schools that lifted the mask requirement,” said Tori Cowger, first author of the study and Health and Human Rights Fellow in the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.

November 4: African scientists say Western aid to fight pandemic is backfiring. Here’s their plan (NPR)

Developing community-based disease surveillance; building capacity to produce protective gear, vaccines, and other pandemic-fighting tools; and investing in healthcare workers are all key ideas for boosting Africa’s capacity to contain infectious diseases, according to experts quoted in this article. Among those quoted was Christian Happi, director of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria and a visiting scientist in Harvard Chan School’s Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

November 3: Koch-funded legal group fights to protect online Covid misinformation (CMD News)

A litigation group funded by billionaire Charles Koch is helping support several scientists, who are known for promoting COVID-19 misinformation, in a lawsuit against the Biden administration that is claiming “censorship” regarding their social media posts. Justin Feldman, research associate at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, said that right-wing organizations, like the group funded by Koch, “want their policies to seem legitimate to the public, so they find scientists who have opinions that are viewed as fringe or discredited by mainstream science.”

October 28: Triple threat: Flu, RSV, Covid-19 have local doctors alarmed about the coming months (Eagle Tribune)

Currently circulating Omicron subvariants “seem to be more likely to evade immune responses,” said Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health. He noted that uptake of the bivalent booster is at an “unacceptably low 6 or 7 percent,” adding that COVID-19’s unpredictability, combined with RSV and flu that are also circulating, has disrupted what used to be a typically been a routine cold and flu season.

October 28: Posts misleadingly link pre-pandemic cancer studies to Covid jabs (AFP Fact Check)

Research fellow Tomotaka Ugai, one of the authors of a study that found rising cancer cases among people under age 50, refuted social media posts suggesting that the study found a link between COVID-19 vaccines and cancer. The study found no such link, Ugai said.

October 26: Neurologic, neurocognitive symptoms of Covid-19 persist for 1 year after diagnosis (Healio News)

A small group of patients with mild COVID-19 infection in Lima, Peru had persistent neurocognitive impairment, depression, and anxiety up to a year after their infection, according to a poster presented at the American Neurological Association’s annual meeting by Hanalise Huff, Fogarty Fellow in the Department of Global Health and Population.

October 25: Biden receives updated booster shot and urges Americans to follow suit (New York Times)

President Biden urged Americans to get a COVID booster to prepare for a possible surge in cases. Transmission has currently slowed because of immunity from vaccines, boosters, and people being infected, but William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said there could still be a winter wave and it’s too soon to relax. “We’re always going to be shifting, updating, working on what’s going to happen next,” he said.

October 25: On the campaign trail, Republicans ramp up anti-science, anti-Covid, often anti-Fauci messaging (STAT News)

Leading into the midterm elections, anti-science rhetoric is common among Republican candidates. Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, said that conservative messaging is focusing on “whether or not the federal government can ever close your child’s school down again, or business, and whether or not you allow big decisions to be made on what scientists believe.”

October 22: Lab manipulations of Covid virus fall under murky government rules (New York Times)

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), was among experts discussing draft guidelines aimed at addressing issues regarding federal regulation of research on dangerous pathogens. “The first draft makes some important advances and leaves a lot of things unaddressed,” said Lipsitch, who has pushed for tighter rules.

October 21: Which COVID studies pose a biohazard? Lack of clarity hampers research (Nature)

Better communication and clarity is needed surrounding experiments that involve modifying viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, in ways that could make them more dangerous, say experts. Some argue that researchers making such modifications should notify regulators and fundings agencies, even if the agencies didn’t fund the experiments. Draft recommendations to update current federal policies surrounding so-called “gain-of-function” experiments don’t go far enough, according to 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).

October 20: Using friendly faces to help close gaps on vaccines and more (American Heart Association News)

People from historically underrepresented and underserved populations are less likely to receive preventive care, including vaccines. But research shows that people are more receptive to getting vaccinated when trusted members of their communities—such as their barber or pastor—talk about it and help alleviate concerns, according to Andrew Chan, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard Chan School.

October 19: Whites now more likely to die from covid than Blacks: Why the pandemic shifted (Washington Post)

A recent variation in U.S. death rates from COVID-19—whites are now more likely to die from the disease than Blacks—is the result of longstanding issues of race and class that interacted with the physical and psychological toll of mass illness and death, social upheaval, public policies, and public opinion, according to this Washington Post article. Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology, noted that the shift in COVID death rates “has vastly different implications for public health interventions.” She said that officials must figure out how to connect with “communities who are ideologically opposed to the vaccine” while contending with “the cumulative impact of injustice” on communities of color.

October 18: Move aside, BA.5: These new COVID variants are gaining ground in the US (USA Today)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

October 18: A COVID Surge is Coming and Here’s How to Stay Safe (Eat This, Not That)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, quoted.

October 15: The COVID emergency may be over — but when will the pandemic end? (CBC)

New Omicron variants have the potential to drive future waves of COVID-19, according to experts. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that “the virus is going to continue to be around, and it will be infecting lots of us.” He added, “We don’t expect the consequences of those infections to be anything like as bad as what we have seen the last few years because of the immunity we have accumulated, but they won’t be trivial. Older people especially should get boosters.”

October 14: Pfizer-BioNTech cites an increase in antibodies in first human results on updated booster (NBC News)

In a press release, Pfizer-BioNTech stated that their updated Omicron booster generated a strong immune response against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. Some experts said it will still take months to know how truly effective the shots are in the real world. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said the press release suggests that the shots will provide “good protection” against currently circulating strains. But he added that protection could wane over time—as with previous boosters—and the virus could continue to mutate, thus allowing it to evade immunity provided by the new shots.

October 11: Is pandemic finally over? We asked the experts. (Harvard Gazette)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, and Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, were among Harvard experts commenting on the likelihood of a winter coronavirus surge as well as possible impacts on school and work.

October 7: Early signs a new U.S. COVID surge could be on its way (NPR)

Some parts of the U.S. are seeing an uptick in COVID cases and hospitalizations, although experts are unsure whether the increases foretell a winter surge in the U.S. If more people get the new bivalent vaccine, it could keep numbers down, but so far only 8 million out of 200 million eligible people have gotten them. And uptake of previous boosters has already been sluggish. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that “Nearly 50% of people who are eligible for a booster have not gotten one. It’s wild. It’s really crazy.”

October 6: An advocate for Africa (Science)

Sikhulile Moyo, Sikhulile Moyo, lab director of the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), quoted.

September 29: New Infectious Threats Are Coming. The U.S. Probably Won’t Contain Them. (New York Times)

The rise of global travel, vaccine hesitancy, and the growing proximity of people and animals are all likely to contribute to increasing numbers of viral outbreaks in the future, but the U.S. is not well prepared to meet the challenge, according to experts. Public health and pandemic preparedness both remain underfunded. Government officials typically look for easy solutions during crises, but no such solutions exist for pandemics, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “A pandemic is by definition a problem from hell,” he said. “You’re vanishingly unlikely to be able to remove all of its negative consequences.”

September 26: These scientists traced a new coronavirus lineage to one office — through sewage (Nature)

A group of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been tracking a heavily-mutated variant of SARS-CoV-2 by studying wastewater samples. “It’s such smart detective work,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, of their efforts. “We still don’t really know where variants come from.”

September 24: Biden’s claim that Covid pandemic is over sparks debate over future (The Guardian)

Rather than declare the pandemic over, as President Biden did recently, it would have been better if he’d convened stakeholders to discuss possible solutions to the ongoing challenges from COVID-19, according to William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “This ended pandemic is still three times as bad as something we would ordinarily consider pretty bad, and I think that’s important, especially because we expect cases to tick up in the fall and the winter,” he said.

September 23: Why Biden’s premature COVID ending could help it surge (The Hill)

In this op-ed, Dean Michelle Williams argued that President Biden’s recent declaration that “the pandemic is over” is premature and could undercut the government’s response to COVID-19’s continuing impact, including rolling out new bivalent vaccine boosters and obtaining funding from Congress.

September 21: Biden said the pandemic is over. Health experts disagree (GBH News)

Speaking on the GBH News show “Greater Boston,” William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that even though the current situation regarding the pandemic is better than it was in 2020 or 2021, it’s still not over. “We still have excess respiratory illness, excess deaths,” he said. “And even now, when things have been plateauing better than they have for quite a long time … we are still struggling to get people the help that they need and we can expect things to get worse in the winter months.”

September 21: Biden says the pandemic is over. Experts and advocates in Mass. say ‘not so fast’ (GBH)

Health experts in Massachusetts pushed back on President Biden’s recent declaration that the pandemic is over, given that the nation is still seeing 400–500 COVID deaths per day. Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, said that she doesn’t think Biden’s words will change many people’s minds either way. But she doesn’t think the pandemic is over. “I think that we have yet to see what the fall and winter will look like in terms of the burden on our health care system, which is ultimately my biggest concern moving forward,” she said.

September 20: Is the Pandemic ‘Over’? Biden Says So, But Scientists Say That’s Up for Debate (FactCheck.org)

Experts are mixed on whether the pandemic is “over,” as President Biden said during a recent interview. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that there is no standard definition for when a pandemic ends. “Previous pandemics have ‘ended’ when people no longer count the fluctuations in cases as large enough to merit calling it such,” he said. He added that the coronavirus “has never been going away, and people will inevitably continue to die albeit in diminishing numbers.” He said that rather than dwelling on semantics, the “question should actually be what sort of numbers do we find acceptable, and how can we work to reduce them further?”

September 20: Who Is Still Dying From Covid? The CDC Can’t Answer That (Washington Post)

Between 400 and 500 people are still dying every day from COVID, but experts say the U.S. lacks detailed information on who is dying, how many have been vaccinated and/or boosted, and what treatments they’ve received. Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that one reason the data aren’t clear is that information is not collected in a uniform way. “A lot of public health happens at city level or lower so, because of that, it’s really hard to combine data across states to assess who is ending up in the hospital or dying of COVID-19,” he said.

September 19: Covid will be a leading cause of death in the U.S. indefinitely, whether or not the pandemic is ‘over’ (NBC News)

President Biden said in a recent interview that the pandemic was “over.” But even if the coronavirus doesn’t pose the kind of threat it did when it first started spreading, it remains deadly, according to experts. Since April, it has killed from 300 to 500 people in the U.S. every day. Rachael Piltch-Loeb, public health preparedness fellow, said that saying the pandemic is over “seems like we are endorsing this level of disease burden and mortality associated with the virus.”

September 19: Biden says COVID-19 pandemic ‘is over,’ but experts not so sure (Healio)

Some experts expressed concern over President Biden saying in an interview that the pandemic is “over.” William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said he is worried that people on the fence about getting a booster shot might skip it if they think the pandemic is over.

September 16: Fifteen questions: Marc Lipsitch on Covid modeling, open-access science, and latte art (Harvard Crimson)

In this Q&A, 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), discussed how he decided to become an epidemiologist, what it was like to suddenly be in the spotlight when the pandemic began, how public health messaging can be improved, and more.

September 15: It’s not your imagination: Planes are dirtier (Washington Post)

Deep cleaning of airplanes—prevalent during the beginning of the pandemic—has eased over time, as it became clearer that the coronavirus spreads mainly through tiny airborne particles. “As more was learned about covid and transmission routes of covid, it was recognized that deep cleaning was overkill,” said Leonard Marcus, founding co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative NPLI) and co-director of NPLI’s Aviation Public Health Initiative. Marcus and other experts noted that airlines are still prioritizing air filtration and that flying can be generally safe, but recommended that passengers continue to take precautions such as wearing a high-quality mask while flying.

September 9: Federal meal programs supported youths’ access to food during COVID school closures (News Medical)

A study co-authored by Erica Kenney, assistant professor of public health nutrition, found that two federal meal programs launched during the pandemic—one that provided “grab and go” school meals, and another that gave parents debit cards to purchase groceries—reached more than 30 million children and provided either meals or cash for nearly 1.5 billion meals per month in 2020. In this Q&A, Kenney and co-author James Krieger of the University of Washington spoke about the implications of their findings.

September 7: Get a COVID-19 booster with your flu shot? Local doctors warn once-a year shots may be too optimistic. (GBH)

Updated COVID booster shots targeting newer variants including BA.4 and BA.5 are now available from both Pfizer and Moderna. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that even though the virus is expected to evolve further, getting one of the boosters is good for both individuals and the community. “We have these vaccines which are capable of protecting against those viruses which are currently circulating in our community and that you’re likely to encounter over the next few months,” he said. “So giving people something to help protect them against that is just good sense.”

September 7: What scientists have learnt from COVID lockdowns (Nature)

Thomas Tsai, assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, and Lisa Robinson, senior research scientist and deputy director of the Center for Health Decision Science, were among experts discussing the relative benefits and costs of lockdowns during the pandemic.

September 7: As masks are shed, a routine visit to a medical office can pose Covid risks for some patients (STAT)

The risks of infection from COVID and other respiratory diseases in outpatient settings is “an important issue that people aren’t talking about,” said Michael Barnett, assistant professor of health policy and management. Disease spread could be limited by giving patients options for virtual visits, requiring masking, and minimizing patients’ time spent waiting around others, he said.

September 6: “The Human Psyche Was Not Built for This” (Pro Publica)

This article detailed a Montana hospital’s dire experience during the surge of the coronavirus’ Delta variant, highlighting how politics interfered with public health measures such as vaccine mandates. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that “political lean” is one of the best indicators for COVID-19 death rates. “Viruses don’t care how you vote,” he said. “If you allow lots of people to become infected at once, it will crash health care.”

September 3: What protection to expect from updated COVID vaccines this fall (CBC)

Updated COVID boosters are now available that target Omicron variants. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that even though the original vaccines didn’t target Omicron, they still provided protection against severe illness. But the new boosters should provide even more protection. “Notably, there may well be a period following the shot when people are immune to infection,” he said.

September 2: Whatever happened to the Botswana scientist who identified omicron — then caught it? (NPR)

In this Q&A, Sikhulile Moyo, director of the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) lab and a research associate in immunology and infectious diseases, discussed pathogen genomic sequencing both at his lab and in southern Africa as a whole, how the pandemic may play out in the near future and how best to prepare, and his own experience with COVID infection.

September 2: ‘Generally in a good spot’: health experts weigh in on relaxed Harvard COVID-19 policies (Harvard Crimson)

Eric Rubin, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases, was among experts discussing Harvard’s current COVID-19 policies.

September 1: Covid, monkeypox, polio: Summer of viruses reflects travel, warming trends (Washington Post)

A warming climate, vanishing forests, and global travel have accelerated the spread of various pathogens, according to experts. According to Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, the high level of viral activity this summer “is partly just poor luck. … But it’s bad luck painted over the top of this trend where we can start to expect these events more and more frequently.”

August 30: Where to Find Affordable COVID Tests After the Free Kits Are Gone (VeryWell Health)

The government’s program for free COVID-19 test kits is ending on September 2. With testing rates already dropping in the U.S., Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that he worries that “reduced availability of free tests will depress testing even more.”

August 29: Using AI as a pandemic crystal ball (Harvard Gazette)

In this Q&A, Pardis Sabeti, professor of immunology and infectious diseases, discussed an artificial intelligence model she helped develop that can predict which coronavirus variants will likely dominate and cause surges.

August 29: How it started vs. how it’s going: What we’ve learned about COVID-19 (Boston Globe)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, was among experts discussing the differences between what we thought we knew about COVID at the beginning of the pandemic and what we know now, in terms of transmission, mutations and variants, and herd immunity.

August 24: The two big pandemic investments we still need to make (Vox)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, discussed the importance of improving air quality indoors, and Lisa Robinson, senior research scientist and deputy director of the Center for Health Decision Science, spoke about the importance of being thoughtful about real-life ramifications of implementing particular policies.

August 22: Health professionals warn COVID poised to take off in fall (Boston25)

Tori Cowger, health and human rights fellow at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, was among several health experts expressing concern that COVID cases are likely to rise in Massachusetts as schools reopen, given that few interventionary measures are in place. Cowger co-authored a recent study, still under peer review, showing that districts that lifted mask mandates between February and June 2021 experienced more COVID cases than those districts that kept masking in place.

August 18: Gujarat Covid death undercount ‘proof’ (The Telegraph India)

Estimated excess deaths in Gujarat were twice the Indian state’s official COVID-19 death numbers, according to a study co-authored by Satchit Balsari, assistant professor in the Department of Global Health and Population. “The vast majority of these excess deaths likely represent deaths from COVID-19 in the absence of any other known catastrophe,” the authors wrote.

August 16: Why pregnancy and birth complications are up during the pandemic (WBEZ Chicago)

In this radio interview, Jose Figueroa, assistant professor of health policy and management, discussed a new study he co-authored showing that pregnancy and birth outcomes worsened in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

August 16: Your kid’s school needs better ventilation to help keep COVID-19 in check (TIME)

Experts discussed the importance of improving ventilation in schools, noting that it can help reduce COVID-19 transmission as well as boost other student health metrics. “Decades of scientific research show when you improve indoor air quality, you improve student health, student thinking, and student performance,” said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program.

August 14: Why it’s worth keeping ‘close eye’ on new Langya virus that’s infecting dozens in China (CBC News)

A new virus is infecting people in China—the Langya henipavirus—and it’s likely that the virus spread from animals to humans. Experts say the world should brace for more viruses like this to spill over into human populations in the years ahead. Aaron Bernstein, interim director of Harvard Chan School’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE), said, “There is a bit of déjà vu here,” referring to COVID. “This is yet another example of pathogen moving from an animal to a person and, as we know, that is the root cause of most of the emerging infections in the world.”

August 12: COVID fades as major issue ahead of midterm elections (Newsweek)

The pandemic may have faded from the spotlight amid the public’s focus on issues such as inflation and abortion. But experts caution that COVID remains a threat. “We’re making progress, lots of progress,” said Eric Rubin, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases, “but our lives are still disrupted” by the pandemic. He noted that there’s still a lot to learn about how the virus mutates and how it may behave moving forward.

August 11: CDC loosens coronavirus guidance, signaling strategic shift (Washington Post)

New relaxed COVID guidelines from the CDC are “a concession to realism, to the way that a lot of people are handling this,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He said that the new guidelines are “entirely reasonable” but also added, “My major concern is whether they will continue to be entirely reasonable given the unpredictable dynamics of the virus.”

August 11: CDC relaxes COVID-19 guidelines, drops quarantine and social distancing recommendations (PBS NewsHour)

Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program, said that new relaxed COVID guidelines prioritize keeping children in school as much as possible. He noted that, under previous isolation policies, millions of students had to stay home from school, even though the virus is typically low risk for kids. “Entire classrooms of kids had to miss school if they were deemed a close contact,” he said. “The closed schools and learning disruption have been devastating.”

August 10: New study based on Mass. schools finds masks protected students, staff from COVID-19 (Boston Globe)

A preprint study found that Massachusetts schools that removed masking requirements in early 2022 saw significantly higher COVID case rates among students and staff compared with districts that kept masking requirements. Tori Cowger, health and human rights fellow at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and lead author of the study, said, “The big takeaway from this study is that universal masking policies in schools remain an important policy tool, among other mitigation measures, to consider during times of high community transmission.”

August 10: The US is on a Covid plateau, and no one’s sure what will happen next (CNN)

More than 40,000 people are hospitalized with COVID in the U.S. and there have been more than 400 deaths a day over the past month—stubbornly high numbers. Experts aren’t sure what the virus will do next. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that “there’s likely to be one step forward, two steps back” in terms of progress in the pandemic.

August 8: A ‘staggering’ number of people couldn’t get care during the pandemic, poll finds (NPR)

A poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Harvard Chan School found that, among households that had a serious illness during the past year, one in five respondents said they had trouble accessing care during the pandemic. Mary Findling, assistant director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, called the number of people unable to access care “staggering” and noted that there remain racial gaps in health care between Black and White Americans. “Looking across a broad range of measures, it’s better to be a White patient than a Black patient in America today. And when you just stop and think about that, that’s horrible.”

August 5: With hundreds still dying of Covid daily, CDC is sticking to current restrictions (NBC News)

The CDC doesn’t plan to ease up on COVID restrictions at this time, given that case numbers are continuing at high levels. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that “it’s reasonable to suggest that holding onto interventions is a good idea as we move into the fall and winter, which are likely to be worse.”

August 4: Here’s What School Covid Policies Should Look Like This Year (New York Times)

Given the protective effect of vaccines, prior COVID infections, and therapeutics—as well as kids’ generally low risk from COVID—schools should stay open next year, according to this opinion piece by Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. He recommended that ventilation and filtration should be key focuses, that testing should be used only for diagnosis, that quarantining should end, and that masking should be reserved as a strategy to get kids back to school quicker after being sick.

August 4: A slow start to youth COVID vaccination in Massachusetts (WGBH)

In Massachusetts, only 11% of kids under age 5 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In the 5-11 age group, 59% have gotten at least one shot. In both groups, disparities exist, evidence suggests. “Compared to other states, we’re doing well,” said Alan Geller, senior lecturer on social and behavioral sciences. “But in Massachusetts, for kids 5-11, half of the communities are way behind the other ones.” Communities with higher percentages of children of color have some of the lowest vaccination rates, Geller said. In addition, overall, the number of children getting vaccinated in the 5-11 age group hasn’t improved in months. The rate of vaccinations “stopped like a car stuck in quicksand,” he said. “And we need new strategies.”

August 4: Updated Covid-19 boosters are expected in September. Will it be too late? (CNN)

Experts say that COVID boosters expected in the fall, targeting the currently circulating BA.5 variant, should further protect people from hospitalization and death, even if new variants crop up. “For me, the most important thing we can measure right now is the breadth of immunity and not try to guess which strain is going to be there,” said Eric Rubin, adjunct professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School and a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee.

August 4: Covid has settled into a persistent pattern — and remains damaging. It may not change anytime soon (STAT)

Some experts are forecasting 100,000 annual COVID deaths for the next several years—roughly 275 deaths each day. “It’s hard for me to see, barring any massive change in the way we’re treating the virus right now or trying to manage it, that anything inherent to the virus is really going to change much,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “We’re going to continue to see the emergence of variants, we’re going to continue to see spread outside the winter months, we’re probably going to see more spread in winter months in temperate regions—basically any time people are crowding indoors.”

August 2: Haven’t Had COVID Yet? Wanna Bet? (WebMD)

Mounting evidence suggests that millions of Americans have gotten COVID without knowing it because they had no symptoms or mild cases. Some people have avoided it altogether, perhaps because of genetic or immune system traits. Both types of cases are important to public health, according to experts. “It’s definitely true that some people have had COVID and don’t realize it,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “It is potentially good news if there’s more immunity in the population than we realize.” He added that knowing a person’s medical history and genetics “may be able to help identify people who are at especially high risk from infection. That knowledge could help those people better shield themselves from infection and get quicker access to treatment and vaccines, if necessary.”

July 30: Long COVID may now be less common than previously thought (CBC)

Based on early data from the pandemic, estimated rates of long COVID ranged from 10% to 40% or even higher, but newer research suggests rates are likely significantly lower than that, in part because of immunity from both vaccination and prior infections. Varying definitions of exactly what constitutes long COVID have also muddied the estimates. “Long COVID is real. There are a lot of people suffering from it,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “But you don’t serve those people by pretending that 40 per cent of the population is in that boat.”

July 29: What poo tells us: wastewater surveillance comes of age amid covid, monkeypox, and polio (BMJ)

Wastewater surveillance has been providing early detection of circulating diseases before clinical cases are confirmed, according to experts. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that wastewater surveillance is a valuable tool in the disease surveillance toolbox. “It would be foolish to rely on it alone—but with other things as well it’s phenomenally useful,” he said.

July 27: Can You Use a Rapid At-Home COVID Test for BA.5? (Verywell Health)

Experts say that rapid COVID tests can pick up Omicron variants but that people may need to take multiple tests, because sometimes, early on in infection, the amount of virus in the body may not yet be high enough for the tests to detect it. Phyllis Kanki, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, noted that at-home rapid tests are very good at detecting the virus during the highest peak of virus replication—usually when a person is showing symptoms.

July 26: How long is COVID infectious? What scientists know so far (Nature)

A number of studies have shown that many people with COVID-19 remain infectious well into the second week after they first experience symptoms. Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, said that 10 days is a useful rule of thumb for when people should no longer be contagious. But he added that a small number of people could be contagious for longer. He cited the rebound phenomenon among some people who’ve taken the antiviral drug Paxlovid, “where people will see that their symptoms seem to resolve and they may even test negative on a rapid test, but then a few days later symptoms and the virus come back.”

July 25: How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected healthcare around the world (GAVI)

This article describes a study by Catherine Arsenault, research scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population, and colleagues showing COVID’s damaging effect on health care globally, including declines in screenings for cancer, TB, HIV, and other diseases, as well as disruptions in maternal health services, care for chronic conditions, and vaccinations.

July 25: Could Genetics Be the Key to Never Getting the Coronavirus? (The Atlantic)

Dyann Wirth, Richard Pearson Strong Professor of Infectious Diseases, quoted.

July 22: Biden vs. Trump: What a Difference Two Years Make for Treating COVID (Scientific American)

The difference in the course of disease and treatment for COVID between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is stark, showing the incredible benefit of vaccines, according to experts. “In general, people in Biden’s and Trump’s age group are now doing so much better than they were as a result of vaccinations,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. He noted that doses matter—four shots are better than three, and three better than two—and that antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid are also making a big difference.

July 21: America Was in an Early-Death Crisis Long Before COVID (The Atlantic)

For decades, the U.S. has lagged behind its peers in terms of life expectancy and years of healthy life, and the pandemic exacerbated those problems, according to experts. Even before the pandemic’s staggering death toll, America had “very successfully normalized to an extremely high level of death on the scale of what we experienced in the pandemic,” according to Justin Feldman, research associate at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. He added that when COVID drove those levels even higher, it proved that America would “accept even more deaths compared to our already poor historical norms.”

July 20: How Long Can You Test Positive for COVID? BA.5 Making Some Last Longer, Top Doc Says (NBC Chicago)

The BA.5 variant appears to make some people continue to test positive for COVID for 10 days or longer. Some experts, like Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, think it’s OK to gradually leave isolation even if you’re still testing positive using a rapid test—especially if you’re fully vaccinated, your symptoms have resolved, and you continue to mask. “You might be able to begin slowly sort of reintegrating while still being mindful of your contact,” he said.

July 20: Predictions of the death of the handshake were premature (CBC)

At the beginning of the pandemic, shaking hands was seen as a source of potential disease spread. But evidence now shows that most coronavirus infections occur through airborne spread, said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “I would say that a handshake is a pretty low-risk thing you can do with respect to COVID,” he said.

July 20: A vax-only approach leaves the most vulnerable behind (Source New Mexico)

Justin Feldman, research associate at the François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center of Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, said that the common refrain that we are in a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” does not present a full picture. Although vaccines work really well, it’s a problem that the U.S. designed most of its policies around the idea that vaccines would offer a near-perfect level of protection. “What’s happened is that omicron moderately weakened the protection of vaccines,” he said. “Boosters would help, but the U.S. has done a poor job boosting. The combination of omicron, failing to boost most of the population, and failing to implement other public health measures like mask mandates has led to a situation where tens of thousands of vaccinated people have needlessly died of COVID.”

July 19: Gawande warns USAID COVID response quickly running out of money (The Hill)

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, is urging Congress to increase financing for USAID’s global coronavirus response. Noting that some parts of the world are still struggling with high COVID-19 death rates, he said, “We’ve gotten through three of the four quarters in this football game, and we can’t give up the game now on COVID. We still have surges that will come.”

July 19: Schools race to improve indoor air quality as coronavirus cases climb (Washington Post)

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

July 18: False negative rapid Covid tests create confusion for people with obvious symptoms (CBS News)

Certain COVID strains are harder to detect using rapid tests, according to PhD candidate Sydney Stanley. Experts advise people with symptoms to isolate until they get at least three negative rapid tests over the course of several days.

July 14: How Often Is Long Covid Happening? The Answer Isn’t So Easy to Find (Gizmodo) 

“Nobody ought to be surprised that covid can have these [long-term] effects, because we know about the consequences of acute viral illness from a lot of other things,” said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology. “Long flu is a thing; long Epstein-Barr virus is a thing. The difficulty is in measuring it.”

July 13: Worried about BA.5? Epidemiologists share what they’re doing to stay safe this summer (Today.com)

To protect themselves and their families from the highly infectious BA.5 variant of COVID-19, experts—including Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases—are taking steps such as wearing masks at work and during travel, prioritizing outdoor time for kids, opting to eat outdoors at restaurants, and testing and staying home if they’re not feeling well.

July 13: BA.5 and Our Disappearing Immunity (In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt)

On this podcast, William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed the coronavirus variant BA.5, currently causing a surge of COVID-19 cases. He talked about the effectiveness of vaccines and our immune systems against the variant, whether it causes more severe infections than other Omicron offshoots, and how to get safely through the summer and fall.

July 13: BA.5 and the pandemic are still a public health emergency (BBC, at 31:25)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, discussed how worried we should be about BA.5 and how governments and individuals should respond. He noted that vaccines remain the most important tool to fight the virus, and that mask mandates—for instance, on public transportation—would make sense during times of high transmission. He added that improving ventilation in indoor spaces “would be one of the single best things that we could do in order to make future tussles with viruses like this easier.”

July 13: Covid Mortality Numbers Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean (The New Republic)

Although COVID deaths among white people in the U.S. have increased over time more than in any other group, people of color are still dying at higher rates as compared to whites, according to experts. Robert Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis, Emeritus, noted that politicization around COVID has made white Americans one of the least vaccinated groups. With trust in the government and official sources at historic lows, he said that family and friends of unvaccinated people may be the best bet for convincing them to get the shots.

July 12: Covid herd immunity hasn’t panned out: Why we are seeing surges when most Americans have been vaccinated or infected (The Grid)

William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, noted that herd immunity for COVID was probably never a realistic end goal. “The development of a sufficient amount of immunity in the population such that we don’t have outbreaks that are devastating to healthcare is a more accurate description of where we are now in some places and where we’re going,” Hanage said. He added that each encounter with COVID, both on an individual and population level, is likely to become less severe on average, although the consequences of repeated exposure for long COVID is unclear.

July 7: How Are We Possibly Still Disinfecting Things? (The Atlantic)

Although it’s now well understood that coronavirus spreads primarily through the air, so-called “hygiene theater” such as wiping down surfaces—which has been shown to make little difference in curbing the spread of COVID—remains prevalent. It may be that some people still don’t understand how the virus spreads, said Joseph Allen, associate professor of exposure assessment science and director of the Healthy Buildings program. “I don’t blame the public at all,” he said. “The science has changed every day for two years.”

July 6: With ultraviolet protection, one Boston cabaret may be safer from COVID-19 than almost anywhere (WGBH)

Ultraviolent lights in the Napoleon Room at Boston’s Club Café are helping keep clubgoers safe from the coronavirus, according to Ed Nardell, professor in the departments of Environmental Health and Immunology and Infectious Diseases, who arranged for the donation and installation of the devices. Nardell, who’s a regular at the club’s open mic nights, explained that air in the room passes through “cones” of energy from the lights and becomes almost completely disinfected.

June 30: Report: Trump Era Covid Strategy “Likely Resulted in Many Deaths” (Institute for Public Accuracy)

The Trump administration’s embrace of a herd immunity strategy during the first year of the pandemic likely resulted in many preventable deaths, according to a report from a congressional subcommittee on the coronavirus. William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, said that the report “depicts crucial missteps in pandemic management.”

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.”