HPM Faculty News

Flu making a comeback, could strain hospitals filled with Covid patients

NBC NEWS – HPM’s Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, said he’s concerned that regions of the country that currently don’t have mitigation measures for Covid will see a large increase in flu cases in the coming weeks. “What I think is worrisome now is that there are many states where they’re not doing much to try to prevent Covid,” Roberts said. “They’re getting rid of mask mandates, they’re letting people come indoor... 

Roberts: A poorly matched flu shot could mean a bad flu season on top of a Covid surge

NBC – HPM’s Mark Roberts, said the data in the new preprint "is certainly consistent with what I know from the rest of the world right now.” The potential, he said, for a “really large influenza season this year is real. So much of the immunity that you get in a population comes from the people who had influenza the year before. There could be substantially bigger epidemics this year, especially if the strain that appears is different than the s... 

COVID-19 could eventually be seasonal, scientists say

CNN - "We need more research to disentangle all the factors that may link seasonality to COVID-19 cases," HPM’s Hawre Jalal said. "Since it has been doing it twice so predictably, it's highly likely that a winter wave will happen again. That doesn't mean that we should give up and say, 'It's seasonal, we just have to go with that.' I think a very important distinction to make is that we have some predictable pattern to it, so we can prepare for ... 

Here's how you can benefit from the Affordable Care Act marketplace this year (and how it works)

NEXT PITTSBURGH - Individuals enrolled in the newly subsidized, free Silver plans, in particular, could see a considerable rise in costs if the subsidies expire and they don’t go into the marketplace to change their plans, according to HPM’s Coleman Drake. “They’re going to have to actively log into their accounts and attach their credit card to their accounts so they can start making payments,” Drake said. “And I would be very worried that that... 

Another wave of COVID is sweeping through Allegheny County, but this time it's different

WESA - Part of the reason for the continued rise in cases is due to what's called seasonal forcing, or seasonal variation. "The weather is getting colder and that allows the [viral] droplets to hang around in the air longer. So what used to be safe is no longer safe," said HPM's Mark Roberts of the Public Health Dynamics Lab.   

Roberts: reduced natural immunity could mean flu more common

THE WEATHER CHANNEL - Getting your flu vaccine can help improve your immunity to the flu significantly. But HPM’s Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, worries that since natural immunity from exposure is where the bulk of population immunity comes from, the US may be in for a particularly virulent flu season.  

Drake on Pennsylvanians buying health insurance having more affordable options

WITF - Though options may be so abundant that selecting coverage for 2022 might be a bit overwhelming and cause choice overload. “There comes a certain point where … the amount of choices increases so much that it becomes cognitively difficult,” said HPM’s Coleman Drake. “[I’m] not insulting people’s intelligence. It’s just hard to pick between 40 options, and people have time constraints.”  

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... 

Drake: How the Trump administration accidentally insured over 200,000 through Obamacare

THE CONVERSATION - Changes stemming from Trump’s discontinuation of cost-sharing reduction subsidy payments to health insurers participating in the ACA marketplaces made HPM’s Coleman Drake and a colleague wonder: Did President Trump’s effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act backfire?  

Kids Should Get the Flu Shot This Season

MEDSCAPE - Children in particular could be at high risk this year because of a lack of herd immunity, which usually comes from a combination of vaccinations and people who were exposed to related strains of the virus, says PHDL’s Mark Roberts. In a normal year, around 180-200 children die from the flu. But last year, only one death was recorded. "Very few kids got influenza last year, so young kids have almost no natural immunity."  

Controversial Brand CrossFit Now Wants to Be Your Doctor, Cole Responds

TIME - The success of these businesses demonstrates that people are willing to pay to skip the line and receive individualized attention, says HPM’s Evan Cole. But improving access for the wealthy isn’t the same as fixing primary care. “My big concern, at a system level, with membership fees is you’re going to systematically exclude individuals with limited income,” Cole says. “Right there, you’ve got an issue with health equity.”  

Gellad on report that booster shot showed high efficacy in large study

REUTERS - HPM’s Walid Gellad, a Pitt Medicine professor with a secondary appointment at Pitt Public Health, said there seems to be a benefit of having the third dose to prevent symptomatic COVID-19, but questioned if the booster was helping younger people as well as older people. "I'm just still very curious if this is primarily in people who are much, much older." Gellad said.  

Pitt researchers find convalescent plasma "futile' in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - “We speculate that it could be a combination of too few high-quality antibodies in the plasma and these patients being too far along in their illness with a runaway inflammatory immune response for those antibodies to turn the tide,” said co-senior author Derek Angus (BCHS '92), the chief innovation officer at UPMC and chair of Pitt’s Department of Critical Care Medicine and secondary faculty in HPM.   

Hospitals brace for an onslaught this winter, from flu as well as COVID

NPR - The much-feared "twindemic" of flu and COVID didn't hit last winter. But some experts fear that last year's remarkably mild flu season has now set the stage for a big rebound in the coming months, because fewer people have built up immunity. "It could be really bad, and it could be really bad at a time when there's still quite a bit of COVID-19 filling up our hospitals," says HPM and PHDL’s Mark Roberts.  

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