COVID-19 news from our experts

COVID Cases Still Low in Allegheny County, While Opioid Overdoses Continue to Plague Residents

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WESA-FM - "[That's] a big loophole there in terms of potentially not having people covered who are sick," said board chair IDM and EPI's Lee Harrison.   

Mellors: COVID-19 Immune Response Could be Long Lasting, but Variants Present Risks

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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - Studies show that variants including Delta can partially evade immune response from infection and vaccination. "Give the virus time and opportunity, we don't know what will arise," said IDM's John Mellors chief of infectious diseases at UPMC.   

Nace among those saying we should require COVID-19 vaccination of all health care workers

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - "I'm hopeful that this will help to start improving the vaccine uptake among employees in the long-term care workforce, because we really need to get those numbers up," said David Nace (EPI '95), chief medical officer of UPMC Senior Communities and an expert in long-term care and flu programs.   

Gary-Webb accepts award for impact of data from the Black Equity Coalition

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NATIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD INDICATORS PARTNERSHIP - Harnessing interdisciplinary expertise and perspectives, the Black Equity Coalition in Pittsburgh successfully used data to advocate for programs and policies to decrease racial disparities in COVID-19 response and created a forum to tackle other health inequities. "Seeing something happen right away was extremely different from the past - that we saw a problem, advocated for things to be fixed, and... 

Hartman Selected as Fellow for New Scialog: Mitigating Zoonotic Threats

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RESCORP - Research Corporation for Science Advancement will bring together a multidisciplinary group of early-career researchers to address the global threat to human health from animal-borne infectious diseases as part of its new Scialog initiative, Mitigating Zoonotic Threats. IDM's Amy Hartman with the Center for Vaccine Research has been selecteed as one of the 2021 fellows. Congratulations!   

Burke, Jalal, and Lee Look at the Waves of COVID-19 Washed Across North America

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UPMC - The COVID-19 pandemic "waves" that North Americans experienced over the past year and a half had interconnected patterns that moved through space and time — and they weren't just limited to the U.S. New research from Pitt Public Health shows the waxing and waning COVID-19 case counts traveled across North American county, state and county borders with seemlingly little regard for politics and public health mandates, much like a storm can ... 

After Weeks of Declining Vaccination Rates in the U.S., They Went Back Up in June. Will the Momentum Last?

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TIME - The daily vaccine rate in the U.S. had dropped to 850,000 a day by early June, down from the peak of 4.3 million on April 8, but now it's starting to creep back up. HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, agrees that childhood vaccinations are part of the explanation, but not all. It may have something to do with recent incentive programs.  

As Allegheny County COVID Cases Slow, A Look at How We Got Here and What Happens Next

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WESA - Black residents continue to be underrepresented among the county's vaccinated population and part of the solution is making the vaccine more accessible. "When community-[based] events started to happen, we saw vaccination rates in Black populations increase," said EPI's Tiffany Gary-Webb, associate dean for diversity and inclusion and member of Pittsburgh's Black Equity Coalition.  

5 COVID-19 Takeaways. Roberts: Masks Work. Really.

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DISCOVER MAGAZINE - Fierce debate raged in the pandemic's early months about whether wearing face masks curbed viral transmission. There was never much science that said masks didn't work, says HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. Pre-2020 research already showed masks' effectiveness, and COVID-era studies cemented that verdict, setting the stage for more widespread, ongoing mask use.  

The Struggle to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for Health Care Workers

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CNN - EPI's Wendy King said people indicated they were receptive to the vaccine if they were familiar with its science. Educators, overall, displayed the least hesitancy; workers in construction, mining and oil/gas extraction showed the greatest. Half of those who were hesitant cited possible side effects—a fear that could be eased by education, King said. A third among the hesitant group gave other reasons: They didn't believe they needed th  

Challenges we face against the next public health crisis? Gary-Webb says preparation is key

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PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - "Preparation is key. There has been disinvestment in our public health infrastructure over the past decade including systems for data collection and dissemination, workforce development, and coordination which prohibited an efficient or effective response to this COVID-19 crisis," said EPI's TIffany Gary-Webb. "Further, the delays in tracking and mitigating the impact of the pandemic in Black, brown, and other vulnerabl... 

A 'space race' level attack on future public health crises will involve Pittsburgh

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U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Maureen Lichtveld's nearly 40 years in environmental public health has focused on a central principle: how to prepare for the next big crisis. "The COVID-19 pandemic, as the limited coverage for childhood vaccinations [in the past], is a public health problem, requiring public health strategies of preparedness, vaccination and control," said Lichtveld, who is aiming to position Pitt at the forefront of this deeper bu... 

Gellad says antibody eligibility criteria leaves a lot of latitude

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U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Last week, the FDA broadened the criteria that doctors can use to determine eligibility for antibody treatments, the Times reported. That opens the door for more young people with certain medical conditions and members of high-risk racial or ethnic groups to get the treatments. "Ultimately, it gives prescribers a lot of latitude in what they can give this for," said HPM's Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Phar... 

Nachega among experts looking at 'Shocking imbalance' of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, underscoring inequity

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HEALIO - IDM and EPI's Jean Nachega and colleagues published a perspective in The New England Journal of Medicine that said concerns about access to COVID-19 vaccines in Africa resemble concerns regarding access to ART for HIV in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, when it was more accessible in high-income countries than African countries – “a disparity that resulted in many preventable deaths in these high-burden settings,” they wrote.  

What activities can unvaccinated children do? Mair among advice from 828 experts.

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NEW YORK TIMES - "With my unvaccinated children, we will not be socializing maskless indoors with other families with kids. My kids go to school and day care, and I am not willing to risk introducing Covid in those settings due to our family's socialization activities," said BCHS's Stina Mair.   

Real-World Results Confirm Vaccine Effectiveness in Older Adults

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PITTWIRE - A multisite study for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines being distributed to fight COVID-19 are highly effective in preventing hospitalizations among older adults, the most at-risk group for serious complications from the disease. Clinicians and researchers from Pitt Medicine and Pitt Public Health helped determine the results of the CDC led study.   

A fun, rewarding way to give back and make the public healthier

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EPI's Nancy Glynn (EPI '94) is the PittCoVax volunteer coordinator and has volunteered herself with students and staff from Pitt Public Health. "I was thrilled to work side-by-side with an awesome, energetic group of faculty, staff, and students," said Glynn. She also talked about building community and the importance of the vaccine.   

Salk Opinion: Ready for this pandemic to end? Here are three things we should all be doing.

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SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE - In a recent opinion piece, IDM's Peter Salk lays out three things: get vaccinated, continue with cautious mitigation strategies, and remember that anything we do as a nation to help quell the virus elsewhere will be good for everyone. "We have come a long way in over a year. An end to the pandemic may not yet be on our doorstep, but it should be not very far beyond the horizon," said Salk.   

Roberts says he'll personally continue to wear a mask in public

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WTAE - HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory, will continue to wear a mask when he's out in public, even though he's been vaccinated against COVID-19. "I was admittedly a little surprised (by the CDC's revised mask guidelines) because I think these policy issues are complicated and they're balancing multiple things."   

CDC Limits Review of Vaccinated But Infected. Harrison Among Those to Express Concern

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BLOOMBERG - Clinical trials weren’t designed to study how the vaccines perform in specific subgroups and people with certain medical conditions weren’t included, said EPI and IDM's Lee Harrison, also with Pitt Medicine.   

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.