HPM Department News

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.  

Meet Aparna Ramani, Health Justice Scholar

“The most exciting aspect of my work is the continued mentorship, guidance, and community within the health advocacy space. As someone who has gained much insight from experienced researchers and community leaders, I hope to pass on my wisdom as a peer mentor to future public health professionals,” said Aparna Ramani (HPM ’23).  

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.”  

Meet Amy Raslevich, Health Justice Scholar

“I am honored to be a part of the Health Justices Scholars program to continue learning racial health equity frameworks and approaches, and to expand my network in the region as we work to break down silos related to the social determinants of health and to improving the health system for those for whom it does not work,” said Amy Raslevich (HPM ‘22).  

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NEW YORK TIMES - In a  study  published on a preprint server in August that has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh used mathematical modeling to predict how severe the upcoming flu season might be based on this increased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.  

Curry named Health System Executive of the Year in LA County

EMANATE HEALTH - In the wake of a global pandemic, Emanate Health CEO Robert H. Curry (HADM '79), who oversees the largest health care system in the San Gabriel Valley, has been named 2021 Health System Executive of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal during its annual Health Care Leadership Panel and Awards. “I’m truly humbled and honored to be selected for this award from such a distinguished group of Los Angeles-area health care lead... 

The Most Important Vaccine I'll Get This Fall

THE ATLANTIC - HPM's Mary Krauland said flu viruses, already a familiar threat to our immune system, spread less easily than SARS-CoV-2, which made them easier to stamp out with masks, physical distancing, school closures and international travel bans, even when adherence was spotty. Cases around the globe plummeted. But "no one expected flu to go away forever," she said.   

Two-for-one vaccine clinics fight flu and Covid, too

CNN - Since there were relatively few flu cases last year, scientists including HPM's Mary Krauland and Kyu Lee have predicted in a pre-print paper that there will be a "large compensatory" flu season this year. A model based on previous flu seasons projects in the paper that there could be 102,000 additional hospitalizations this upcoming season due to flu illnesses, which corresponds to a 20% increase compared with the average number of hospit... 

Biden's Mandate Requires Weekly COVID-19 Testing for Unvaccinated Employees. That Will Get Expensive.

WESA - "There are arguments that say...if they're not willing to get a fully authorized, now-approved vaccine, then they need to bear the brunt of the cost," said HPM's Tina Batra Hershey.  

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