COVID-19 news from our experts

Special Report: Dementia wards in PA were ravaged during the pandemic. Nace explains.

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POST-GAZETTE - Sixy-seven percent of big outbreaks were in personal care and assisted living homes with dementia units. Just keeping infections from dementia wards has been daunting, said David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer for UPMC Senior Communities and co-lead of the state's regional collaborative that responds to outbreaks in long-term care homes in Western Pennsylvania.   

Althouse: Why Number Needed to Treat Can be Misleading for Vaccines

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MEDSCAPE - Andrew Althouse (EPI '13) authored a piece discussing how the "number needed to treat" (NNT) concept is misleading when applied blindly to vaccine trials for COVID-19.   

King discusses vaccine hesitancy paper and looking at hesitance by occupation

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KDKA AM - "Our hope as public health professionals is that overtime, people that are vaccine hesitant now will be willing to take the vaccine [in the future]," said EPI's Wendy King, lead author on a recent paper looking at vaccine hesitancy by occupation.   

Newman: Remote Research and Clinical Trial Integrity During and After the Coronavirus Pandemic

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JAMA NETWORK - EPI Chair Anne Newman is co-author on a recent publication evaluating the affect of remote research needs through coronavirus mitigation efforts on clinical trials, finding that reducing unnecessary participant travel may be beneficial but that other factors can compromise the validity and integrity of certain trials and that deciding to conduct future trials remotely should be considered carefully.   

Roberts on COVID-19 rates falling short in parts of MN

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STAR-TRIBUNE - COVID-19 vaccination rates are lagging in parts of Minnesota as the pace of new shots slows throughout the state, an early warning sign that achieving herd immunity could take longer in some places. "In rural areas, the fact is you are still moving around, you are still coming into contact with people," said HPM and PHDL's Mark Roberts. "If only 40% of the people in that geographic area are vaccinated and immune then you have a hi... 

Gary-Webb on vaccine inequity between Black and White Allegheny County residents

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WESA - Gary-Webb agrees that the mass vaccination sites were an important and effective way to quickly inoculate a large number of people. But now that nearly half of Allegheny County’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, she said it is time to shift efforts to clinics that target specific populations. This is due not only to vaccine hesitancy concerns, but also to the fact that some people who are still unvaccinated face m... 

Dean's Day 2021 EPI departmental award recipients

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Darien Beall (EPI '21) won the master's level award and Mary Schiff (EPI 22) won the doctoral level award. Taylor Robinson (EPI '22) and Yu-Husan Lai (EPI '22) won the new Department of Epidemiology Health Disparity Research Award.   

Award recipients for 2021's CPHP Translation and Cartier Ulrich Award

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In conjunction with Dean's Day, Praveen Kumar (HPM '21) and Alexander Sundermann (EPI '22) received the Center for Public Health Practice Award for Translation and Application of Research to Public Health Policy and Practice. In addition, Darien Beall (EPI '21) and Stephanie Christian (BCHS '23) were awarded with the Catherine Cartier Ulrich Memorial Award for Service to the Underserved.   

Dean's Day 2021 IDM departmental award recipients

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Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology awards during our annual Dean's Day student research competition were given to Clare McCreavy (IDM '21) and Alex McPherson (IDM '24).   

Black COVID-19 Equity Coalition report shows disparity in vaccine rollout in Allegheny County

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Though they've been working since long before vaccines were available - for 57 weeks - the Black COVID-19 Equity Coaltion recently released a report on equity in vaccine distribution in Allegheny County. "This particular report...is focused on data related to vaccine distribution, understanding the disparities in distribution so far and making recommendations on what we can do, not only on data infrastructure issues but how we can use data to un... 

Harrison explains need for COVID vaccine boosters (video)

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WPXI - "We will definitely need boosters," said EPI's Lee Harrison, who is also faculty at Pitt Medicine. Because of "the efficacy over time against standard straings of COVID-19 and then also what's going to happen with all of these variants that have been circulating globally," we'll need additional vaccine doses. "I think it will be more like the annual flu shot. And there's even some discussion about trying to combine the COVID vaccine with ... 

Roberts talks vaccine hesitancy and likely need for additional vaccine dosage (video)

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WTAE - "I'm worried that vaccine hesitancy is going to prevent us, in many parts of the country, from achieving herd immunity. Local communities that are more hesitant, it could mean they are more at risk," said HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. Roberts also weighed in on the likelihood and reasoning for potentially needing additional vaccine boosters in the future.   

Dean Lichtveld exemplifies the power of prevention

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After receiving her COVID-19 vaccine at an interprofessional clinic on campus, Dean Maureen Lichtveld celebrated by posing with a life-sized picture of Jonas Salk – a symbol of the importance of vaccines and one of the core principles of public health: prevention. Lichtveld shares her experience in an effort to encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect our communities, get back to campus, and back to our lives.   

Sundermann and Harrison describe genomic surveillance and ending the COVID-19 pandemic

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THE CONVERSATION - Knowing the genome sequence helps researchers understand how the virus is mutating into variants and how it's traveling from person to person. Alexander Sundermann (IDM '14, EPI '22), EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, and Pitt Medicine's Vaughn Cooper explain genomic surveillance - what it is and why we need more of it to track coronavirus variants and help end the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Burke: First COVID-19 vaccine shot just as effective as the second

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - Two of the three COVID-19 vaccines being administered to curb the spread of the disease require two shots for full protection, but some experts say one shot may be enough, at least for now. "As soon as I saw the reports on the Moderna and Pfizer applications for emergency use authorization, I saw both had striking effectiveness," said EPI's Donald Burke.   

Dean Lichtveld looks to make science work for Pittsburgh communities

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U TIMES - "My motto is always 'Making science work for communities," said Dean Maureen Lichtveld. So her top goal for the school is to increase student and faculty connections to the community and its public health concerns. Another priority is precision public health – an interdisciplinary practice to tackling community-based problems with community-based assets. "We will go to the community and address…public health threats."   

Marques among researchers looking for thousands of participants for COVID-19 study

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UPMC - "Excuse me, are you willing to answer a few survey questions about your experience with COVID-19? Will you provide a blood sample and a nasal swab to test for coronavirus?" Pitt is one of 15 sites nationwide involved in the COMPASS study that will survey residents around the Pittsburgh area to learn who has antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.   

Roberts on whether the U.S. is entering a fourth wave of COVID-19

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TIME - Public health experts are worried that the country is headed for a fourth major spike. There's good reason to think this one might be less disastrous than the previous three. HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab, points to the relatively small uptick in deaths as a sign that prioritizing high-risk people for vaccination may be resulting in fewer fatalities even as cases increase.   

Albert says without a ride, many in need have no shot at coronavirus vaccine

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WASHINGTON POST - One of the biggest challenges for state and local officials has been getting vaccines to homebound older adults, said BCHS Chair Steven Albert. "This is an invisible population. They're not like long-term care residents in nursing homes. They are very elderly and frail and they live at home and are an afterthought, in some cases."  

Braund gives current overview of PA State Response to COVID-19

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Wendy Braund, Pennsylvania's acting interim physician general led a conversation about the PA Department of Health resposne to COVID-19, addressing the current situation and containment and mitigation efforts. Braund painted a picture of COVID-19 across the nation in addition to the state itself. She talked about the demographics of the states data, additional virus strains, plus containment and mitgation efforts. Open for full recording.  

COVID-19 Events

Research coordination

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) is coordinating research from Pitt and UPMC to plan and efficiently implement studies related to COVID-19 by managing resources, expertise, tools, and lab capabilities. Visit the COVID-19 research page for details.