Our Experts address COVID-19

New covid subvariants highly contagious, immune evasive, experts say

TRIB LIVE -  A rapidly spreading covid variant is highly contagious and can cause breakthrough infections, but it’s not more severe or dangerous than prior strains, local experts say. The omicron subvariant — known as BA.5 — has “really taken off, nationally and locally,” said Dr. Lee Harrison, professor of infectious disease and epidemiology.   “It is very, very infectious,” Harrison said. “There’s no doubt about it. In terms of immun... 

COVID-19 deadlier during pregnancy, African study says

VOICE OF AMERICA - Pregnancy puts women at higher risk of severe medical complications or death from COVID-19, according to a new study of more than 1,300 women in sub-Saharan Africa. "Africa is not Europe, is not the U.S.A.," said IDM and EPI's Jean Nachega, lead author of the new study. "We should not just rely on data coming from the U.S., Europe or China to try to understand COVID on the continent."   In the study , published in the jou... 

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 ... 

Data analysts proved what Black Pittsburgh knew about COVID's racial disparities

NPR - The ferocity of the COVID-19 pandemic did what Black Pittsburgh communities, which make up a quarter of the city's population, thought impossible. It shook the norms. Black researchers, medical professionals and allies knew that people of color experienced bias in public health policy, even before the pandemic. As the deadly virus emerged, data anaylsts, foundation directors, epidemiologists including Tiffany Gary-Webb, pooled their talent... 

Harrison and other Medical Experts are Working to Detect the Omicron Variant

WTAE - "The big question is when will we detect it and also how rapidly will it spread? There have been other variants that look scary that didn't spread very well in the U.S. and other parts of the world, so I expect that we will see it sometime soon but exactly what it will do when it gets here - we are not really clear," said EPI's Lee Harrison.   

The U.S. Is Relying On Other Countries' Data To Make Its Booster Shot Decisions

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT - Misinformation and news overload also contribute to the confusion, said EPI’s Lee Harrison. “For a lot of laypeople, it’s very difficult to know, ‘What source should I be using?’ And it’s even more difficult when you have all this misinformation trying to intentionally misguide people,” he said. State and local officials who undermine national policies — for example, by prohibiting vaccine mandates — don’t help, either.  

Ganguli op-ed: Masking still makes sense for vaccinated individuals

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - In a recent Op-Ed from Mary Ganguli (EPI '87) says, "We all know there’s just too much information out there: some of it changing over time, some of it well-intended but misguided and some of it deliberate misinformation. It can be confusing and overwhelming. As a medical doctor and professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, I’d like to try to cut through that confusion."   

Coronavirus questions, answered: Which booster is more effective, long lasting?

WASHINGTON POST - Studies have not yet been done to determine how long Pfizer’s and Moderna’s boosters offer protection and whether one is more effective than the other. But EPI’s Lee Harrison does not expect to see significant differences between the brands by either measure. “I would feel extremely confident in the increased protection provided by a booster dose of either of the two mRNA vaccines,” he wrote in an email.  

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