COVID-19 news from our experts

The Struggle to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for Health Care Workers

image
CNN - EPI's Wendy King said people indicated they were receptive to the vaccine if they were familiar with its science. Educators, overall, displayed the least hesitancy; workers in construction, mining and oil/gas extraction showed the greatest. Half of those who were hesitant cited possible side effects—a fear that could be eased by education, King said.  third among the hesitant group gave other reasons: They didn't believe they needed the  

Challenges we face against the next public health crisis? Gary-Webb says preparation is key

image
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - "Preparation is key. There has been disinvestment in our public health infrastructure over the past decade including systems for data collection and dissemination, workforce development, and coordination which prohibited an efficient or effective response to this COVID-19 crisis," said EPI's TIffany Gary-Webb. "Further, the delays in tracking and mitigating the impact of the pandemic in Black, brown, and other vulnerabl... 

A 'space race' level attack on future public health crises will involve Pittsburgh

image
U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Maureen Lichtveld's nearly 40 years in environmental public health has focused on a central principle: how to prepare for the next big crisis. "The COVID-19 pandemic, as the limited coverage for childhood vaccinations back then, is a public health problem, requiring public health strategies of preparedness, vaccination and control," said Lichtveld, who is aiming to position Pitt at the forefront of this deeper bureau... 

Gellad says antibody eligibility criteria leaves a lot of latitude

image
U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Last week, the FDA broadened the criteria that doctors can use to determine eligibility for antibody treatments, the Times reported. That opens the door for more young people with certain medical conditions and members of high-risk racial or ethnic groups to get the treatments. "Ultimately, it gives prescribers a lot of latitude in what they can give this for," said HPM's Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Phar... 

Nachega among experts looking at 'Shocking imbalance' of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, underscoring inequity

image
HEALIO - IDM and EPI's Jean Nachega and colleagues published a perspective in The New England Journal of Medicine that said concerns about access to COVID-19 vaccines in Africa resemble concerns regarding access to ART for HIV in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, when it was more accessible in high-income countries than African countries – “a disparity that resulted in many preventable deaths in these high-burden settings,” they wrote.  

What activities can unvaccinated children do? Mair among advice from 828 experts.

image
NEW YORK TIMES - "With my unvaccinated children, we will not be socializing maskless indoors with other families with kids. My kids go to school and day care, and I am not willing to risk introducing Covid in those settings due to our family's socialization activities," said BCHS's Stina Mair.   

Real-World Results Confirm Vaccine Effectiveness in Older Adults

image
PITTWIRE - A multisite study for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines being distributed to fight COVID-19 are highly effective in preventing hospitalizations among older adults, the most at-risk group for serious complications from the disease. Clinicians and researchers from Pitt Medicine and Pitt Public Health helped determine the results of the CDC led study.   

A fun, rewarding way to give back and make the public healthier

image
EPI's Nancy Glynn (EPI '94) is the PittCoVax volunteer coordinator and has volunteered herself with students and staff from Pitt Public Health. "I was thrilled to work side-by-side with an awesome, energetic group of faculty, staff, and students," said Glynn. She also talked about building community and the importance of the vaccine.   

Salk Opinion: Ready for this pandemic to end? Here are three things we should all be doing.

image
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE - In a recent opinion piece, IDM's Peter Salk lays out three things: get vaccinated, continue with cautious mitigation strategies, and remember that anything we do as a nation to help quell the virus elsewhere will be good for everyone. "We have come a long way in over a year. An end to the pandemic may not yet be on our doorstep, but it should be not very far beyond the horizon," said Salk.   

Roberts says he'll personally continue to wear a mask in public

image
WTAE - HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, will continue to wear a mask when he's out in public, even though he's been vaccinated against COVID-19. "I was admittedly a little surprised (by the CDC's revised mask guidelines) because I think these policy issues are complicated and they're balancing multiple things."   

CDC Limits Review of Vaccinated But Infected. Harrison Among Those to Express Concern

image
BLOOMBERG - Clinical trials weren’t designed to study how the vaccines perform in specific subgroups and people with certain medical conditions weren’t included, said EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, also with Pitt Medicine.   

Special Report: Dementia wards in PA were ravaged during the pandemic. Nace explains.

image
US NEWS/POST-GAZETTE - Sixy-seven percent of big outbreaks were in personal care and assisted living homes with dementia units. Just keeping infections from dementia wards has been daunting, said David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer for UPMC Senior Communities and co-lead of the state's regional collaborative that responds to outbreaks in long-term care homes in Western Pennsylvania.   

Althouse: Why Number Needed to Treat Can be Misleading for Vaccines

image
MEDSCAPE - Andrew Althouse (EPI '13) authored a piece discussing how the "number needed to treat" (NNT) concept is misleading when applied blindly to vaccine trials for COVID-19.   

King discusses vaccine hesitancy paper and looking at hesitance by occupation

image
KDKA AM - "Our hope as public health professionals is that overtime, people that are vaccine hesitant now will be willing to take the vaccine [in the future]," said EPI's Wendy King, lead author on a recent paper looking at vaccine hesitancy by occupation.   

Newman: Remote Research and Clinical Trial Integrity During and After the Coronavirus Pandemic

image
JAMA NETWORK - EPI Chair Anne Newman is co-author on a recent publication evaluating the affect of remote research needs through coronavirus mitigation efforts on clinical trials, finding that reducing unnecessary participant travel may be beneficial but that other factors can compromise the validity and integrity of certain trials and that deciding to conduct future trials remotely should be considered carefully.   

Roberts on COVID-19 vaccination rates falling short in parts of MN

image
STAR-TRIBUNE - COVID-19 vaccination rates are lagging in parts of Minnesota as the pace of new shots slows throughout the state, an early warning sign that achieving herd immunity could take longer in some places. "In rural areas, the fact is you are still moving around, you are still coming into contact with people," said HPM and PHDL's Mark Roberts. "If only 40% of the people in that geographic area are vaccinated and immune then you have a hi... 

Gary-Webb on vaccine inequity between Black and White Allegheny County residents

image
WESA - Gary-Webb agrees that the mass vaccination sites were an important and effective way to quickly inoculate a large number of people. But now that nearly half of Allegheny County’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, she said it is time to shift efforts to clinics that target specific populations. This is due not only to vaccine hesitancy concerns, but also to the fact that some people who are still unvaccinated face m... 

Dean's Day 2021 EPI departmental award recipients

image
Darien Beall (EPI '21) won the master's level award and Mary Schiff (EPI 22) won the doctoral level award. Taylor Robinson (EPI '22) and Yu-Husan Lai (EPI '22) won the new Department of Epidemiology Health Disparity Research Award.   

Award recipients for 2021's CPHP Translation and Cartier Ulrich Award

image
In conjunction with Dean's Day, Praveen Kumar (HPM '21) and Alexander Sundermann (EPI '22) received the Center for Public Health Practice Award for Translation and Application of Research to Public Health Policy and Practice. In addition, Darien Beall (EPI '21) and Stephanie Christian (BCHS '23) were awarded with the Catherine Cartier Ulrich Memorial Award for Service to the Underserved.   

Dean's Day 2021 IDM departmental award recipients

image
Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology awards during our annual Dean's Day student research competition were given to Clare McCreavy (IDM '21) and Alex McPherson (IDM '24).   

COVID-19 Events

Research coordination

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is coordinating research from Pitt and UPMC to plan and efficiently implement studies related to COVID-19 by managing resources, expertise, tools, and lab capabilities. Visit the COVID-19 research page for details.