Epi Faculty News

This Flu Season is Different. Here's How to Prepare.

NEW YORK TIMES - In a  study  published on a preprint server in August that has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh used mathematical modeling to predict how severe the upcoming flu season might be based on this increased susceptibility. They reported that if flu and flu vaccination levels are typical of prior years, 102,000 more Americans than average could be hospitalized with influenza — a 20 percent incr... 

To jab or not to jab? Vaccinations still hot topic in sports

AP - “For athletes in particular, their livelihood is based on their ability to compete,” said EPI’s Wendy King (EPI '04), who took part in a research project on vaccine hesitancy earlier this year. “Even if they thought, ‘Oh, I’m pretty healthy and I wouldn’t get that bad of a case,’ it would still heavily impact their ability to go to work, to play in a game. It could affect their entire team — not just them — so they might feel like they’re l... 

Harrison is confident in both mRNA boosters

WASHINGTON POST - Studies have not yet been done to determine how long Pfizer’s and Moderna’s boosters offer protection and whether one is more effective than the other. But EPI’s Lee Harrison told The Post that he does not expect to see significant differences between the brands by either measure. “I would feel extremely confident in the increased protection provided by a booster dose of either of the two mRNA vaccines,” he wrote in an email. ... 

Harrison: Get COVID-19 booster shot as soon as you're eligible

WPXI - With the options for COVID-19 booster shots expanding, it's estimated tens of millions of people will be eligible to roll up their sleeves once again. "So that's great news," said EPI's Lee Harrison. "I do think the infections and the number of breakthroughs that we're seeing with the delta variant argue in favor of if you are eligible to go ahead and get your booster."   

Changes in the length of the premenopausal menstrual cycle may predict the risk of heart disease

FLORIDA NEWS TIMES - As women approach menopause, the length of the menstrual cycle often increases. The timing of these changes may provide clues about the risk of people developing heart disease, according to a new study. "Cardiovascular disease is the number one murderer of women and the risk is significantly increased after middle age, so menopause may contribute to the disease," said EPI's Samar El Khoudary, lead author.   

Does 1918 Pandemic Offer Clues on Emerging from COVID-19?

U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Dean Emeritus Donald Burke is an expert at using computer modeling and simulation to guide public health decision-making. He said it's important to consider the death rate and not simply the death total. "Even though the death totals are similar [for COVID-19 and the 1918 flu], the death rates — that is the rate per 100,000 people, or per-unit population — are lower now from covid than it was for influenza by about t... 

Migraines and More Severe Hot Flashes Could Be Linked

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - A new study that examined migraine, menopause and heart disease "confirms that women with a history of migraine are at increased risk for severe hot flashes at midlife," said EPI's Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women's Biobehavioral Health Laboratory and past president of the North American Menopause Society.   

Allegheny County breakthrough cases increasing, but vaccinated still avoid serious illness

PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE - The jab also appears to have a slight reduction in effectiveness against the delta variant compared to prior dominant virus strains, said EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison. But it should still protect people from severe disease if they do become infected. "I think what it tells us most clearly is, if we can get the rest of the population vaccinated, it will turn COVID into more of a nuisance than a major cause of hospitalizati... 

Sexual Assault Linked to Later Brain Damage in Women, Study Finds

CNN - "It could be either childhood sexual abuse or adult sexual assault," said study author EPI’s Rebecca Thurston, director of the Women's Biobehavioral Health Laboratory. "Based upon population data, most women have their sexual assaults when they are in early adolescence and early adulthood," she added, "so these are likely early experiences that we're seeing the marks of later in life."  

Harrison co-authors Conversation piece - Massive numbers of new COVID-19 infections, not vaccines, are the main driver of new coronavirus variants

THE CONVERSATION – The rise of coronavirus variants globally has highlighted the huge influence evolutionary biology has on daily life. But how mutations, random chance, and natural selection produce variants is a complicated process. What EPI and IDM’s Lee Harrison and a Pitt Medicine colleague have learned over the past 18 months of following how the coronavirus has acquired different mutations around the world.  

U.S. Energy Firms Launching Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates

REUTERS - Energy and construction workers have some of the lowest vaccine uptake rates, according to an online survey led by EPI's Wendy King. Some 45% of extraction and construction workers said they were hesitant to get the vaccine, versus just 7.3% in the computer and mathematical professions, the May survey showed.   

A group of moms on Facebook built an island of good-faith vaccine debate in a sea of misinformation

THE WASHINGTON POST - People concerned about vaccine safety may be easier to convince than those who don't trust the government or medical authorities, said EPI's Wendy King (EPI '04). Earlier this year, King surveyed more than 5 million U.S. adults about their attitudes toward coronavirus vaccines. Many who said they may not or won't get vaccinated said they feared side effects – a sign they may be influenced by misinformation.  

Harrison talks about when boosters might be available to the general public

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW - "What they're aiming for is starting September 20, eight months after the second dose. I'm hoping the rollout will go smoothly starting on that date. The process is authorization by FDA for a booster dose, and then ACIP makes the recommendation about the booster dose." said EPI's Lee Harrison.   

Mendez analysis shows legislation addressing racism as a public health crisis surges but lacks funding

UPMC -  “The fact that these resolutions and declarations garnered enough support to pass in multiple state and local governments is worthy of celebration,” said lead author EPI’s Dara Mendez, interim director of the Center for Health Equity. “Simultaneously, it signals an opportunity to advocate for further action to eliminate racism, which has well-documented negative effects on the health of individuals and communities...  

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