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Archived news – Coronavirus reading

Why isn’t routine Covid-19 testing happening in prisons and immigrant detention centers? (October 27) – Most testing performed in correctional and immigration detention facilities is still reactionary. In settings where even soap can be hard to come by, the lack of testing has proven to be a disaster. The infection rate in federal prisons and jails is nearly six times higher than the rate among the U.S. population, while the age-adjusted death rate is three times higher.

The Difference Between Feeling Safe and Being Safe (October 26) – But safety means something different in a pandemic. Safety is among the most powerful motivators of human behavior, which also makes the drive to feel safe a potent accelerant for confusion, disinformation, and panic. Staying safe requires an accurate, mutually agreed-upon understanding of reality on which to assess threats and base decisions. Since the pandemic arrived in the U.S., however, politicians have sparred over basic safety precautions and aggressive reopenings…

The Swedish COVID-19 Response Is a Disaster. It Shouldn’t Be a Model for the Rest of the World As of Oct. 13, Sweden’s per capita death rate is 58.4 per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University data, 12th highest in the world (not including tiny Andorra and San Marino). But perhaps more striking are the findings of a study published Oct. 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which pointed out that, of the countries the researchers investigated, Sweden and the U.S. essentially make up a category of two: they are the only countries with high overall mortality rates that have failed to rapidly reduce those numbers as the pandemic has progressed.

White House Appears to Endorse Herd Immunity Strategy for COVID-19 (October 12) – An article by Joyce Frieden (MedPage Today)

Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders (October 9) – Fears from the summer appear to have been overblown. An article by Emily Oster, Economist at Brown University (The Atlantic).

This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic (September 30) – An interesting article describing the difference between the now-famed R0 (pronounced as “r-naught”) which is an average measure of a pathogen’s contagiousness and k, the measure of the pathogen’s dispersion. k asks whether a virus spreads in a steady manner or in big bursts, whereby one person infects many, all at once. After nine months of collecting epidemiological data, we know that this is an overdispersed pathogen, meaning that it tends to spread in clusters, but this knowledge has not yet fully entered our way of thinking about the pandemic—or our preventive practices.

Science Is What Determined a Successful Public Response to COVID-19 (September 22) – an article by Meredith Salisbury in Techonomy discussing why flattening the curve wasn’t an effective COVID-19 strategy, and more about the best and worst public health responses.

The Coronavirus Is Mutating, and That’s Fine (So Far) (September 11) – The real question is: Has the virus become more virulent or more infectious than it was when it was first detected in Wuhan, central China, in December? The evidence suggests that it has not.

America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral (September 9) – The latest piece written by Ed Yong (The Atlantic)

No, 94 Percent of COVID-19 Deaths Were Not Caused by Something Else (September 1) – Important read! Only 6 percent of reported COVID-19 deaths have the virus as the sole cause of death listed. Thinking that 94% had additional issues is a huge misunderstanding of the statistics.

A Vaccine That Stops Covid-19 Won’t Be Enough (August 24) – Interesting Op-ed by Adam Finn (The New York Times)

The Plan That Could Give Us Our Lives Back (August 14) – An article bRobinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal (The Atlantic). The U.S. has never had enough coronavirus tests. Now a group of epidemiologists, economists, and dreamers is plotting a new strategy to defeat the virus, even before a vaccine is found.

Immunology Is Where Intuition Goes to Die (August 5) – Another great article by Ed Yong (The Atlantic) delving into the immune system and how our partial understanding of it plays into our current situation. “Immunology is where intuition goes to die.”

Two decades of pandemic war games failed to account for Donald Trump (August 4) – Biosecurity researchers didn’t predict that the US would be among the hardest-hit countries. On the contrary, last year, leaders in the field ranked the US top in the Global Health Security Index in terms of how well prepared they were to fight outbreaks..

How the Pandemic Defeated America (August 4) – A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees. The latest article by Ed Yong (The Atlantic)

How America’s Low Science Literacy Fueled the COVID Crisis (July 29) – A great article by Meredith Salisbury (Techonomy): “If we had a better baseline understanding of science, Americans would be better equipped to respond to a crisis like COVID-19 without making a mockery of basic public health recommendations. As we endure our sixth month of this pandemic, with all indicators showing that our national situation is getting worse than ever, I can’t help but wonder how different things would look today — and how many lives could have been saved — if we simply had greater respect for science.”

A Vaccine Reality Check (July 24) – This latest Atlantic articles discusses the possibilities of developing a vaccine for COVID-19, with a good summary of why it may take months before any effective vaccine can be widely distributed.

Mistrust of a Coronavirus Vaccine Could Imperil Widespread Immunity (July 18) – Billions are being poured into developing a shot, but the rapid timetable and President Trump’s cheerleading are creating a whole new group of vaccine-hesitant patients.

The U.S. is the accidental Sweden, which could make the fall ‘catastrophic’ for Covid-19 (July 15)

Millions Have Lost Health Insurance in Pandemic-Driven Recession (July 13) – A new study estimates that more than five million American workers lost their insurance this spring, a number higher than those in any full year of insurance losses.

A Q&A with Dr. Fauci and NIH Director Dr. Collins on the coronavirus pandemic (July 6) – a COVID-19 conversation

Distributing a covid-19 vaccine raises complex ethical issues (July 1) – A team of experts from different countries are making recommendations on fair and equitable global access to a #coronavirus vaccine. Once a vaccine is developed, complex ethical issues, questions of distribution, and access arise.

To understand who’s dying of Covid-19, look to social factors like race more than preexisting diseases (June 15) – As researchers pull back their lens from individuals to population-level risk factors, they’re finding that, in the U.S., race may be as important as age in gauging a person’s likelihood of dying from the disease.

Shutdowns prevented 60 million coronavirus infections in the U.S., study finds (June 8) – Shutdown orders prevented about 60 million novel coronavirus infections in the United States and 285 million in China, according to a research study published Monday that examined how stay-at-home orders and other restrictions limited the spread of the contagion.

The Uncounted Dead (May 20) – Why some people who likely died from COVID-19 aren’t included in the final numbers.

America’s Patchwork Pandemic Is Fraying Even Further (May 20) – The coronavirus is coursing through different parts of the U.S. in different ways, making the crisis harder to predict, control, or understand. A story by Ed Yong (The Atlantic).

9 ways Covid-19 may forever upend the U.S. health care industry (May 19) – Results collected from a survey conducted by STAT with prominent health policy experts — top health advisers to both Republican and Democratic presidents, lawmakers, executives, physicians, and top lobbyists  — who forecast a new status quo that they say will upend what American health care looks like for decades. Among their predictions: The pandemic could help bring about an end to the American tradition of tying health insurance to employment status. It could prompt a reckoning about why Black people and other historically marginalized populations have long suffered so disproportionately — not just from Covid-19, but from nearly every common health condition. And it could represent the beginning of the end for the very concept of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

State and Federal Data on COVID-19 Testing Don’t Match Up (May 17) – The CDC has quietly started releasing nationwide numbers. But they contradict what states themselves are reporting. An initial analysis of the CDC’s state-level data finds major discrepancies between what many states are reporting and what the federal government is reporting about them. (The Atlantic)

Scientific research on the coronavirus is being released in a torrent (May 7) – Will that change how science is published?

Fauci: No scientific evidence the coronavirus was made in a Chinese lab (May 4) – In an exclusive interview, the face of America’s COVID-19 response cautions against the rush for states to reopen, and offers his tips for handling the pandemic’s information deluge.

Theranos Would Be Thriving in the Covid-19 Pandemic (May 1) – Relaxed regulations, misinformation, and a big potential payout are reminiscent of the conditions that cultivated Theranos.

We Need An “Army” Of Contact Tracers To Safely Reopen The Country. We Might Get Apps Instead (April 29) – Without enough human contact tracers to identify infected people, the US is barreling toward a digital solution, and possible disaster.

Why the coronavirus is so confusing (April 29) – A guide to making sense of a problem that is now too big for any one person to fully comprehend by Ed Yong (The Atlantic).

Pseudoscience and COVID-19 — we’ve had enough already (April 27) – The scientific community must take up cudgels in the battle against bunk.

What 5 Coronavirus Models Say the Next Month Will Look Like (April 22)

A New Statistic Reveals Why America’s COVID-19 Numbers Are Flat (April 16) – Interesting discussion about why the percent positive testing rate is disconcerting. The US has a 20% positive rate (w/41% for NY) compared to Italy which has a 15% rate or South Korea a 2% only. Such a high test-positivity rate almost certainly means that the U.S. is not testing everyone who has been infected with the pathogen!

Our Pandemic Summer (April 15) – When do we go back to normal? That outlook ignores the immense disparities in what different Americans experience as normal. It wastes the rare opportunity to reimagine what a fairer and less vulnerable society might look like. It glosses over the ongoing nature of the coronavirus threat. There is no going back. The only way out is through—past a turbulent spring, across an unusual summer, and into an unsettled year beyond.

Why COVID-19 can’t be directly compared with the flu (April 14) – One of the several comparisons discussed in this article focuses on the number of lives lost (so far) because of COVID-19 versus the seasonal flu. The death from these two illnesses are occurring under completely different circumstances with COVID-19 deaths occurs in the presence of a nearly national shutdown while flu deaths are in the absence of this intervention.

How much access to data should be permitted during the COVID-19 pandemic? (April 14) – A Q&A with Urs Gasser, Executive Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School., discussing the risks and benefits of mining data to combat COVID-19

‘Suppress and lift’: Hong Kong and Singapore say they have a coronavirus strategy that works (April 13) – Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s until recently had managed to keep their case numbers remarkably low while avoiding the extreme lockdowns implemented in China and many other countries. But case numbers spiked in the second half of March, and some observers feared the strategy had failed. It reported 287 new cases on Thursday, its highest ever 1-day total..

If the world fails to protect the economy, COVID-19 will damage health not just now but also in the future (April 9) – Previous crises have shown how an economic crash has dire consequences for public health. But in the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is entering uncharted territory. The world’s leaders must prepare to preserve health.

Patent holders urged to take “Open COVID Pledge” for quicker end to pandemic (April 7) – An international coalition of scientists and lawyers is calling on organizations to make their intellectual property freely available for the fight against COVID-19.

The Revolution Is Under Way Already (April 5) – Far from making Americans crave stability, the pandemic underscores how everything is up for grabs.

Don’t Believe the COVID-19 Models (April 2) – An important article discussing how we should think about epidemiological models (and interpretations of those models) (by Zeynep Tufekci).

Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2: Architecture of a Pandemic (April 1) – This article looks at everyone’s struggles in this pandemic and helps understand what is happening to known ways of life, continuous news cycle barrage, social media disinformation, disruption to work and home lives, and closures of businesses that people hold as edifices of normalcy.

Ten Weeks to Crush the Curve (April 1) – Suggests are six steps to mobilize and organize the nation, we can defeat Covid-19.

The US now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than anywhere else in the world (March 26) – This marks an unhappy milestone for the United States: It’s now No. 1 in confirmed coronavirus cases. China, where the novel coronavirus originated, was the previous leader. The country reported 81,782 cases as per the Johns Hopkins interactive map. Until now, second place was held by Italy, which has reported 80,589 cases.

How the Pandemic Will End (March 25) – An overview of the likely scenarios that the world will be facing in the coming months while managing the COVID-19 pandemic – discussing the next months, the endgame, and the aftermath (by Ed Yong).

COVID-19 workers get training to protect their own health (March 23) – The National Institutes of Health launched the COVID-19 website with important educational resources for coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. 

Can you become immune to the coronavirus? (March 23) – A New York Times article.

How the Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe (March 21) – The death and economic damage sweeping the United States could have been avoided – if only we had started testing for the virus sooner.

Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance (March 19) – What the Next 18 Months Can Look Like, if Leaders Buy Us Time

Suppression vs. Mitigation vs. Do Nothing – early on

Tracking a pandemic: Q&A with a COVID-19 detective (March 13) – What Fred Hutch expert Trevor Bedford is learning as he chases the coronavirus evolution and spread. Scientists track small changes in the virus’ genetic code as COVID-19 spreads from person to person. The changes act like fingerprints, helping researchers chart its global movements in near real time. 

America’s shamefully slow coronavirus testing threatens all of us (March 12) – The US lags just about every developed country on testing for Covid-19 disease.

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now (March 10) – Great, extensive article on the virus and how it’s spreads.

Trump’s mismanagement helped fuel coronavirus crisis (March 7) – Current and former administration officials blame the president for creating a no-bad-news atmosphere that stifled attempts to combat the outbreak. For six weeks behind the scenes, and now increasingly in public, Trump has undermined his administration’s own efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak — resisting attempts to plan for worst-case scenarios, overturning a public-health plan upon request from political allies and repeating only the warnings that he chose to hear. 

China’s cases of Covid-19 are finally declining. A WHO expert explains why. (March 3) – “It’s all about speed”: the most important lessons from China’s Covid-19 response.

Cryptic transmission of novel coronavirus revealed by genomic epidemiology (March 2) – An informative piece on genomic epidemiology applied to COVID-19. It is encouraging that we can sequence, share and analyze pathogen data so quickly today.

Therapeutic and triage strategies for 2019 novel coronavirus disease in fever clinics (February 13) – Outlines the best practice strategies for diagnosing and treating Covid-19 from the point of view of hospitals and clinics, but can also be helpful for individuals experiencing symptoms.

Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response (January 31) – As it improvises its way through a public health crisis, the United States has never been less prepared for a pandemic. For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is – not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark.


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