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How to Get Your Homebound Parent a COVID-19 Vaccine

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NEXT AVENUE - About 1.9 million adults over 65 are mostly homebound and another 5.3 million have health conditions that make leaving home difficult. BSCH's Steven Albert warns it's likely that family or other caregivers will need to arrange for transport to vaccine centers. "For every one person in a nursing home, there are probably five people in their homes with equal levels of disability who rely on... family and community-based services."  

Amanpour & Salk: Vaccine lessons from history (video)

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CNN — Christiane Amanpour discusses with IDM's Peter Salk the 97% drop in polio prevalence within a few years of initial vaccine adoption. In 1953, Dr. Peter Salk was one of the first to receive a polio vaccine—from none other than his father, Jonas Salk. They go on to discuss herd immunity and vaccine hesitancy both in 1954 and today.  

UK approves anti-inflammatory drugs to treat sickest Covid-19 patients after strong results in clinical trial

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WASHINGTON POST - Two rheumatoid arthritis drugs that suppress the immune system may help critically ill patients survive Covid-19, providing a benefit even on top of steroids. The results had an unusual path into the public domain—via Twitter—after DSMB monitoring found that the drugs were so effective that it would be unethical to continue giving placebo to critically ill patients according to investigator Derek Angus (BCHS ’92).  

Paralized

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In a 3500-word and photo retrospective, journalist Laura Malt Schneiderman looks back at the last massive vaccine rollout—for polio—which started in Pittsburgh.  

Estradiol may influence association between HDL cholesterol, aortic calcification

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HEALIO - High HDL cholesterol levels alone may not be cardioprotective for midlife women; estradiol may influence the risk for cardiovascular disease, according to data from the SWAN Heart study. “Levels of endogenous estradiol may play an important role in cardioprotective associations of HDL cholesterol,” said EPI's Samar R. El Khoudary.  

Editorial | Ramp up vaccinations to protect individuals, community

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - As we did in wearing masks and taking other precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we should focus together on getting inoculated to move toward what scientists and doctors call “herd immunity” – a collective level of protection that blocks the spread of the virus. Herd immunity requires 80% of the population to be protected by either vaccination or previous infection, according to alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08). “As ... 

How Democratic wins in Georgia affect the odds on 3 health care policy proposals.

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VOX  - Asked to prognosticate on the likelihood that Democrats will approve Mediate negotiations for prescription drugs, HPM's Walid Gellad puts the odds at 50/50. “I think now you don’t have all those stories about insulin and EpiPen, plus you have positive stories about vaccines and other drugs," Gellad said. "You don’t have as fertile an environment for more extreme drug measures.”  

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

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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... 

FDA resists pressure to tweak vaccine dosages to stretch supply

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CENTRE DAILY TIMES—The top U.S. drug regulator is resisting calls to tinker with how COVID-19 vaccines are administered. HPM's Walid Gellad,  who supports stretching out the time between shots, anticipates states ramping up over the next week or two to reach people beyond front-line health care workers. The Pa. health department will begin listing public vaccination sites as early as this week that will serve general public.  

If I obtained the vaccine, do I need to quarantine away from my 70-year-old husband?

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT - Pitt Public Health alumna Jill D. Henning (IDM ’08), associate professor of biology at Pitt Johnstown, and fellow experts answer the public's questions about COVID-19.  For starters: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 contain mRNA and not any virus, which means that you are not contagious. It is safe to interact with members of your household without a mask after the vaccine.  

Polio vaccines brought an earlier epidemic under control. New vaccines can end this current plague

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GLOBE AND MAIL - In a recent letter to the editors, IDM's Peter Salk remarks on our a palpable sense that relief from the pandemic may be in sight, on mourning freedom lost in the face of necessary societal restrictions, and on how his father would be amazed to see what has happened in terms of our ability to mobilize our technological capacities, economic capabilities, and the generous side of our natures to stop a modern plague.  

From polio to the COVID vaccine, IDM's Peter Salk sees great progress

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NPR - IDM's Peter Salk was just 9 when he got one of the first polio vaccine shots in 1953 at the family home outside Pittsburgh. Today, he has been hugely impressed by the development of a vaccine in less than a year. Dr. Salk is a bit concerned about the number of people who are reluctant, or outright opposed, to getting the vaccine. But he believes those numbers will shrink as people see the benefits. Until then, he'll be playing it safe.   

Study adapts well known Brazilian program to prevent teen sexual violence

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POST-GAZETTE – Research by Elizabeth Miller of Pitt Medicine and BCHS showed small, neighborhood classes could significantly reduce sexual violence among teenage boys living in areas of concentrated disadvantage. Adapted from a program in Brazil, Manhood 2.0's core message remains the same: challenging gender norms that foster violence against women and unhealthy sexual relationships.  

Covid-19 vaccine: Light faint at the end of the tunnel for Vietnam

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VNEXPRESS - Amid a global sigh of relief over vaccine developments, experts say Vietnam's access is fraught with uncertainty. IDM's Toan Ha said the country's ability to produce its own vaccines is critical. "I believe that Vietnam will be able to successfully develop clinically-tested Covid-19 vaccines in the near future. It is better to be self-reliant, being able to locally produce an affordable and safe vaccine than relying on foreign manufa... 

Study finds 35 percent of counties have two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines

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NBC NEWS -  With 200 million vaccine doses due by the end of March, states, and counties have been left to sort out where to send vaccines first and how to get them there. A study found tremendous variation in how far people would need to drive for the vaccine, with 35 percent of counties having two or fewer facilities to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Those with long driving distances between sites and a low number of sites overall “are going to... 

Gov. Wolf awards Pitt Public Health $2.5M to study health impacts of fracking

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TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT -  Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has awarded a $2.5 million contract to research the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing in the state in two epidemiological studies to be conducted over the next two years. EPI's Evelyn Talbott will investigate the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and the development of childhood cancers, while BIOS' Jeanine Buchanich will examine acute conditions, such as asthma and birth ... 

Trump administration keeps existing smog limits, rejecting calls to toughen them

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THE WASHINGTON POST - EOH's Bernard Goldstein, who is a former assistant administrator for research and development at the EPA, faulted EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler with failing to take COVID-19 into account when setting standards for either ozone or fine particles. “There were so many ways he could have done it,” Goldstein said. “Instead, what he did was to ignore it.”   

"It's going to be a long road" - What IDM's Peter Salk thinks about COVID-19

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USA TODAY - Jonas Salk’s vaccine helped wipe polio from most of the world, something that many people hope will happen with the coronavirus vaccine. However, IDM's Dr. Peter Salk warns eradicating polio from the U.S. was a long and difficult journey, and he doesn’t expect eliminating COVID-19 will be any easier. “It’s going to be a long road, just even getting enough vaccines out to people around the world."  

Biden coronavirus task force appointee Michael Osterholm discusses "The COVID Pandemic: The Evolving Reality" (video)

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In a special IDM Seminar, Michael T. Osterholm answers questions regarding the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection, public health strategies to reduce transmission, and thoughts on how the world will likely look one year from now. Osterholm was recently appointed to President-elect Biden's coronavirus task force and directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.  

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

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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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Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021 

Albert among 3 Pitt Experts on Reasons for Optimism in 2021

PITTWIRE — Optimism is hardwired in most humans, says public health professor Steve Albert. If you don’t feel like you’re one of them right now, here are three perspectives on why, despite all that 2020 brought us, things are looking brighter. (12/16/2020)
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Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form 

Researchers scan DNA to learn how facial features form

THE CONVERSATION - Until very recently, geneticists had virtually no understanding of which parts of our DNA were linked to even the most basic aspects of facial appearance. HUGEN's John R. Shaffer and Pitt’s Seth M. Weinberg explore questions like: Can we reliably predict a person’s face from thei... (12/11/2020)
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An Expert’s Mental Health Reminders 

An Expert’s Mental Health Reminders

PITTWIRE - Finals are here. Winter is coming. Pitt psychiatry and epidemiology expert Rebecca Thurston offers reminders to care for yourself during tough times. (12/03/2020)


Featuring the latest research, opportunities, and groundbreaking developments from CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health. Review theFriday Letter submission guidelines then share your story ideas via publichealth.pitt.edu/share-news or contact phcomm@pitt.edu. 
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Trump administration keeps existing smog limits, rejecting calls to toughen them 

Trump administration keeps existing smog limits, rejecting calls to toughen them

THE WASHINGTON POST - EOH's Bernard Goldstein, who is a former assistant administrator for research and development at the EPA, faulted EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler with failing to take COVID-19 into account when setting standards for either ozone or fine particles. “There were so many ways he ... (12/29/2020)