Hugen’s Lisa Parker, director of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, has made resources available for COVID-19 ethics, medical humanities, and narratives.
COVID-19 is one of three novel coronavirus outbreaks in the past 20 years that originated in animals. How is the current outbreak similar and different from the previous ones? What course will COVID-19 take in Pennsylvania? IDM's Amy Hartman puts the current outbreak in perspective with what we know (and don’t know) about SARS-CoV-2. EPI's Donald Burke discusses the epidemiological and environmental factors that will shape the likely ph...
90.5 WESA - “If you are born after 1945, then your risk of overdose death increases exponentially from one birth year to the next,” said lead author, PHDL's Hawre Jalal. “Those patterns are too regular to be random. There’s some reason why drug overdoses are transmitting from one birth year to the next. We have to unravel those causes. And we have to understand why this pattern is happening to be able to curb the overdose epidemic.”
BCHS's Noble Maseru recently contributed to a community health panel focused on shaping a health and human rights agenda where he discussed how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the African-American community and called for a COVID-19 equity task force.
PITTSBURGH QUARTERLY - “It’s a disease with many risk factors that not many people know about. It’s not just about a person not exercising,” said EPI's Iva Miljkovic. “People can have a normal BMI, but they have a lot of fat where it’s not supposed to be and we don’t do anything about it in clinical practice. When you go to the doctor ... no one measures your waist. That would be the most simple way to tell if someone was at high risk.”
NBC NEWS – IDM's Charles Rinaldo said that many have tried to come up with vaccines that use two or three proteins out of the approximately 75 that make up the virus. Those would be safe, but have not protected well. Another approach has been to use a weakened form of the whole virus. In that attenuated, its replication capacity is weakened but it’s not as safe. These failures “are why this is such a monster.”
WIRED – No one really knows if the malarial drug helps fight Covid-19, and an information war is hindering the struggle to find out. Unorthodox research methods and a seeming rush to publication, or even prepublication, is muddiing the situation. Walid Gellad, HPM faculty and head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, says a French study was low quality in terms of trial design and evidence of whether it works or not.
WASHINGTON POST – “It raises a lot of flags, and it requires a lot of answers,” said HPM’s Walid F. Gellad who also serves as head of Pitt's Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, “especially when people start saying it’s become the standard of care, and all we saw was a news release in a trial with an outcome that was changed two weeks ago. It really is striking.”
IDM’s Tatiana Garcia-Bates signed up to volunteer through the Allegheny County Health Department for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), where she instructed a local nursing center's staff on proper N-95 respirator fit.
THE DAILY ITEM – EPI’s Don Burke said the challenge for public health officials in setting benchmarks is that it’s still not well understood what percentage of the population shows no symptoms when they’re infected with the coronavirus. How widely the population should be tested is key. “We are just beginning to get a clear view of the magnitude of the spread,” Burke said.
WTAE - HPM’s Mark Roberts said, “We don’t really know how many people have been sick, or have gotten infected and not gotten sick. Since there can be asymptomatic carriers, we need to ramp up testing to determine which counties can reopen. He’ll be looking closely at states that have eased stay-at-home restrictions to see what impact, if any, a limited reopening has.
NPR - Pitt Med's Derek Angus (BCHS '92) says the problem is that our system rewards tribalism, with insufficient motivation for effective collaboration. He's leading a fast-track remap trial for COVID-19, part of an international effort involving hundreds of investigators. He has lots of opinions about which drugs might work best, but he'd rather focus on a trial design that can be as modular as possible and let as many people in as possible.
Graduating master's student in IDM's community practice track Rajeev Salunke (IDM '20) has been accepted into the internal medicine residency program at the University of Connecticut. Hear directly from Rajeev about his background, his experiences at Pitt Public Health, and his aspirations for the future.
BUSINESS INSIDER - By the time global health groups agreed on a testing strategy for Ebola, the epidemic had waned and there weren’t enough people to test. HPM’s Walid Gellad, director of Pitt’s Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing, said it’s a legitimate worry that the torrent of studies will compete for the same pool of patients, making it harder to find enough people to test all the drugs.
SCIENCE - IDM's Douglas Reed, who is developing and testing COVID-19 vaccines in monkey studies, says the number of animals was too small to yield statistically significant results. His team also has a manuscript in preparation that raises concerns about the way the Sinovac team grew the stock of novel coronavirus used to challenge the animals: It may have caused changes that make it less reflective of the ones that infect humans.
NEW YORK TIMES - EPI’s Donald Burke said, “Even with these corrections, it’s still on the high side — this is higher than I would have expected.” He added that, whatever the precise scale of the initial outbreak, that same dynamic will accelerate once measures to mitigate the spread are relaxed without other public health measures in place. “When you take away social distancing, everything will go right through the roof.”
POST-GAZETTE - By counting probable cases and deaths, not just confirmed ones, “the overall sensitivity of the surveillance system is enhanced,” said EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. She interviews people who have had contact with COVID-19 patients to determine if they should be considered probable cases. “By casting a wider net you catch more cases. And it gives us a greater understanding of the full impact” of the disease on the community.
90.5 WESA – EOH’s James Fabisiak said the rising ozone levels in this report stood out to him since they had fallen in previous reports. Ozone doesn’t come from a single source, and it’s aggravated by higher temperatures. “Therefore, climate change becomes a particular—at least, good—candidate as for why you might be seeing that particular change.”
PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES – While high numbers have made state-level contact tracing impossible, Allegheny County has managed it by bringing in Pitt health science students and faculty to assist, including EPI’s Catherine Haggerty. “We identify potentially exposed persons within the community so that we can reduce community spread,” she said. “I think that’s played a role in the success of managing and combatting COVID-19” in the region.
Three students from the Department of Health Policy and Management, Brandon Trumbull (HPM ’19), Karl Gibson (HPM ’19), and Emily Joseph (HPM ’20), participated in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health Administration Case Competition in February 2019.