HPM Faculty News

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

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?

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.  

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

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.  

Gellad says antibody eligibility criteria leaves a lot of latitude

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... 

Jalal's 2018 work backs impending "fourth wave" of overdose deaths

BUZZFEED NEWS - The resumption of an upward trend in overdose deaths matches projections that HPM's Hawre Jalal and colleagues made in a 2018 study. "The trend has been rising for 30 years, and it has only been accelerating in the pandemic," Jalal said, adding that more recent analysis suggests the trend may date back as far as 1959.  

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

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.   

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

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."   

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

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... 

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

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.   

New research from Roberts shows Medicare and Medicaid fail Americans just above the poverty line

ACADEMIC TIMES - Americans who receive Medicare but make slightly too much money to qualify for supplemental coverage from Medicaid spend thousands more dollars on out-of-pocket medical expenses while receiving fewer outpatient services and prescriptions than people covered by both programs, according to new research by HPM's Eric Roberts and colleagues.   

Pitt Public Health team wins third place at Morningside International Global Health Case Competition

In collaboration with the Center for Global Health, Pitt held its first-ever Global Health Case Competition last fall. Pitt supported the winning team from that competition to enter Emory University's Morningside International Global Health Case Competition. Emily Crisan (BCHS '24) joined five undergraduate students and faculty mentor HPM's Elizabeth Van Nostrand and won third place out of 53 teams from across the U.S. for their plan and strateg... 

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

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.   

Drake on increased federal aid to combat the opioid epidemic

PGH POST GAZETTE – An increase in federal aid means Pennsylvania has more money to spend on the opioid crisis and with fewer restrictions. HPM's Coleman Drake says easing access to medicine is an important part of continuing to make headway, noting that these benefits have been evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. "I suspect we’ll find that these changes have some positive effects, and I hope the administration doesn’t close the spigot.”  

Discarded drugs: a wasteful and costly problem that requires whole-of-government approaches

STAT FIRST OPINION —  HPM chair Julie Donohue and National Academies colleagues advocate for a “whole of government” approach to reforming the biopharmaceutical supply chain: Drug developers, manufacturers, clinicians, payers, and policymakers should focus on reducing system inefficiencies in drug development, delivery, and payment that result in discarded drugs, rather than on trying to recover the financial worth of the unused portion.  

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