Our Experts address COVID-19

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

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

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... 

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

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... 

The NFL’s testing program could help other scientists.

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, “... 

The choices of fans have public health implications.

NEW YORK TIMES - Common sense dictates that bringing together 25,000 people during a pandemic could lead to more coronavirus infections, and the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., is no exception. EPI's  Donald Burke  is trying to develop a way to estimate the potential spread using cellphone tracking data, statistics on the transmission of viruses, and other information. “Modeling the virus is the easy part. Modeling the humans is the hard part.”  

COVID-19 Update: As Pa. cases decline, did state avoid post-holiday surge?

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE — Lee Harrison, a Pitt epidemiologist and chairman of the Allegheny County Board of Health, said that the drop in the positivity rate was encouraging, but warned that the state is not done with the winter surge. “We’re in the middle still of a raging pandemic,” he said.  "I would encourage people to really continue to hunker down, stay safe, and, whenever their turn comes up to get vaccinated, get vaccinated.”  

Head of Allegheny County board of health says highly contagious U.K. variant is likely already in western Pa.

WESA / WITF — It is likely the new strain of the coronavirus that was first identified in the U.K. is already circulating in Allegheny County, according to the chair of the county’s board of health. “The public health messages don’t change [because of the new strain] … We need to continue to hunker down, follow all the masking, physical distancing, and other mitigation efforts that we’re already doing,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, a Pitt infectious d... 

Virtual Agents of Change: How Computers Are Mapping Covid-19's Future

KNOWABLE MAGAZINE—Instead of trying to analyze how society functions from the top down, agent-based modeling tackles the problem from the other end, focusing on individuals."We have (modeled) every person in the US, where they live, where they go to school, where they go to work," says EPI's Donald Burke of PHDL's FRED. This approach both predicts the pandemic's future trajectory and gives insights into the effects of public health strategies. ... 

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