COVID-19 news from our experts

Dean Lichtveld exemplifies the power of prevention

image
After receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at an interprofessional clinic on campus, Dean Maureen Lichtveld celebrated by posing with a life-sized picture of Jonas Salk – a symbol of the importance of vaccines and one of the core principles of public health: prevention. Lichtveld shares her experience in an effort to encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect our communities, get back to campus, and back to our lives.   

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

image
THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Burke: First COVID-19 vaccine shot just as effective as the second

image
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered to curb the spread of the disease require two shots for full protection, but some experts say one shot may be enough, at least for now. "As soon as I saw the reports on the Moderna and Pfizer applications for emergency use authorization, I saw both had striking effectiveness," said EPI's Donald Burke.   

Dean Lichtveld looks to make science work for Pittsburgh communities

image
U TIMES - "My motto is always 'Making science work for communities," said Dean Maureen Lichtveld. So her top goal for the school is to increase student and faculty connections to the community and its public health concerns. Another priority is precision public health – an interdisciplinary practice to tackling community-based problems with community-based assets. "We will go to the community and address…public health threats."   

Marques among researchers looking for thousands of participants for COVID-19 study

image
UPMC - "Excuse me, are you willing to answer a few survey questions about your experience with COVID-19? Will you provide a blood sample and a nasal swab to test for coronavirus?" Pitt is one of 15 sites nationwide involved in the COMPASS study that will survey residents around the Pittsburgh area to learn who has antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.   

Roberts on whether the U.S. is entering a fourth wave of COVID-19

image
TIME - Public health experts are worried that the country is headed for a fourth major spike. There's good reason to think this one might be less disastrous than the previous three. HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab, points to the relatively small uptick in deaths as a sign that prioritizing high-risk people for vaccination may be resulting in fewer fatalities even as cases increase.   

Albert says without a ride, many in need have no shot at coronavirus vaccine

image
WASHINGTON POST - One of the biggest challenges for state and local officials has been getting vaccines to homebound older adults, said BCHS Chair Steven Albert. "This is an invisible population. They're not like long-term care residents in nursing homes. They are very elderly and frail and they live at home and are an afterthought, in some cases."  

Braund gives current overview of PA State Response to COVID-19

image
Wendy Braund, Pennsylvania's acting interim physician general led a conversation about the PA Department of Health resposne to COVID-19, addressing the current situation and containment and mitigation efforts. Braund painted a picture of COVID-19 across the nation in addition to the state itself. She talked about the demographics of the states data, additional virus strains, plus containment and mitgation efforts. Open for full recording.  

Pitt Public Health faculty, staff, and students volunteer for vaccine rollout efforts

image
ACHD - Our faculty, staff, and students are volunteering in both clinical and non-clinical roles in partnership with the Allegheny County Health Department, community organizations, and other Pitt Health Sciences volunteers as additional points of dispensing are opening and dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines increases.   

Leaf, Sokol, Lamonte present on experiential learning in the time of COVID-19

image
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pitt Public Health and the Allegheny County Health Department had to think fast and act quickly to implement its long-standing public health internship safely. Robin Leaf, director of strategic academic initiatives and accreditation, Jamie Sokol (BCHS '07), and Leah Lamonte (IDM '06), both with the health department, recently presented their work at Teaching Prevention 2021.   

Albert on Another COVID-19 Challenge: Vaccinating the Homebound

image
AARP - "It's catch-as-catch-can," says BCHS Chair Steven Albert about efforts to get vaccinations to the estimated 2 million older adults in the U.S. who are unable to leave their homes for health reasons. "It really is not as clear or rational as it should be."   

COVID-19: Allegheny County reports 3 confirmed cases of UK coronavirus variant

image
KDKA/CBS NEWS – Lee Harrison of Pitt Medicine and EPI said the current safety efforts are enough for now. “What we know about the UK strain is that it’s definitely more transmissible,” said Harrison. “It spreads more rapidly than other strains. We also know the current vaccines are quite effective against it.” He said symptoms of the variant and original strains aren’t much different. But washing hands, social distancing, and double masking are ... 

BIG STAKES, BIG STATS: Making sense of COVID-19 trials

image
PITTWIRE — When we hear about clinical trials, we might picture doctors and patients partnering to test new therapies. What we might not think about are the many others who make those studies happen. Take Maria Mori Brooks, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, who makes sense of the numbers generated by multicenter research collaborations. As co-director of the Epidemiology Data Center, she helps design and optimize data collection and m... 

Johnson & Johnson vaccine could get green light on Thursday

image
WTAE NEWS — According to its trials, Johnson & Johnson was about 25% less effective than the two vaccines already on the market at preventing someone from getting COVID-19. But HPM professor Mark Roberts said Johnson & Johnson is just as effective as the other two at preventing serious illness. "When you look at the data for preventing serious disease, and preventing death, it’s almost indistinguishable from the Pfizer and Moderna."   

‘Déjà vu’: HIV-positive Pittsburghers say we have much to learn about COVID by comparing it to our other deadly epidemic

image
PUBLIC SOURCE — Pittsburghers who have lived with HIV for decades say the COVID pandemic echoed many of the scariest and most dangerous parts of living through the HIV and AIDS epidemic, including confusion about the science, social isolation, a reluctance to adopt public health measures, and a lack of presidential leadership. HIV disease persists, particularly among younger gay Black men living in the South, said Dr.  Mackey Friedman ,  “If yo... 

Health officials say the coronavirus will likely become endemic in the next several years. What does that mean? Burke explains.

image
USA TODAY - The CDC defines endemic as the “constant presence and/or usual prevalence” of a disease within a population. An endemic disease spreads at a baseline level every year without causing major disruption to people's lives, said EPI's Donald Burke. “Things that are endemic are present for long periods of time without interruption, continuously circulating in the population," like the common cold, he said. “Epidemic means something that co... 

Alumni Research: Lack of health services and transportation impede access to vaccine in communities of color

image
THE WASHINGTON POST -  Doctoral alumna Inma Hernandez (HPM '16) with researchers at Pitt and West Health Policy Center said not enough attention has been paid to gaps in the health-care system when addressing vaccine uptake in vulnerable populations. The research applauded the decision by the Biden administration to use community pharmacies as vaccine access points — they tend to be open nights, weekends and holidays and have parking lots, capac... 

COVID-19 Case counts have started falling in the U.S. This may be why

image
TIME  About 10% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. “We’re nowhere near where you need to be for herd immunity, even with the combination of vaccination and the number of people who had the disease,” says HPM's  Mark Roberts , director of Pitt's Public Health Dynamics lab. Each vaccination helps, but it may take months for immunizations to have a dramatic effect on case counts..  

New York scrambles to improve vaccination acceptance In Black and Latino communities

image
NPR — NYC officials say they're working to overcome resistance to the coronavirus vaccine in the Black and Latino communities, while also trying to make doses more available. New state data showed many Black New Yorkers aren't taking the vaccine even when it's offered free of charge. A study by Inmaculada Hernandez (HPM '16) found many Black Americans nationwide—including some in NYC—live in "vaccination deserts," where pharmacies and other vacc... 

The NFL’s testing program could help other scientists.

image
NEW YORK TIMES - The NFL didn’t just play football this season, it conducted an enormous coronavirus testing program. Now scientists who try to predict how viruses travel through communities are eager to see the data to fine-tune their models. EPI's Donald Burke said the data could help him understand how long infected people have been in the community spreading the virus. The NFL’s data, including more than 700 positive cases over six months, “... 

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.