Contagious Disease

Communicable disease: Origin story

An interesting discussion from This American Life (“The Herd“, transcript) talking about the origin of the term “communicable disease” with respect to public health monitoring for the 1918 flu pandemic. Ira Glass: Howard says [St. Louis Commissioner of Health] Dr. Starkloff had all kinds of messages, telling people to wash their hands, don’t cough on …

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COVID-19 vaccine: More good news as Moderna releases results

Looks like more good news on the COVID-19 vaccine front. Dr. Fauci’s prediction that the Pfizer/BioNTech foreshadowed positive news for future vaccines appears to have come true. Stat News reports: The Moderna vaccine reduced the risk of Covid-19 infection by 94.5%. There were 95 cases of infection among patients who received placebo in the company’s …

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COVID-19, nursing home quality and vaccination

Interesting findings from an NBER working paper by Cronin and Evans (2020): Higher-quality nursing homes, as measured by inspection ratings, have substantially lower COVID-19 mortality. Quality does not predict the ability to prevent any COVID-19 resident or staff cases, but higher-quality establishments prevent the spread of resident infections conditional on having one. Preventing COVID-19 cases …

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Positive news on a COVID-19 vaccine

Great news on progress for a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. From their press release: Vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis Analysis evaluated 94 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in trial participants Study enrolled 43,538 participants, …

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Will fighting COVID-19 disrupt progress against malaria?

That is the key question explored in a recent article from The Economist titled “Masked up, ready to battle bugs“. As individuals in developing nations leave crowded cities for fear of COVID, they may be at more risk for malaria due to the presence of more standing water (which attracts malarial mosquitos) used for irrigation …

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Pandemic comparison: COVID-19 vs. London Plague

Dasgupta et al. (2020) compares individual behavior in the COVID-19 pandemic with the 1665 London plague outbreak based on the descriptions by Daniel Defoe in A Journal of the Year of the Plague. The historical comparison is interesting throughout and merits a full read. Some excerpts are below. On the failure to recognize the disease’s …

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What is the “reputational value” of developing a COVID vaccine?

COVID-19 is a global pandemic and finding a vaccine for COVID-19 would be a boon to societal. The value would be enormous. One study found that the value would be more than 1.1% of GDP. Since global GDP is $87.7 trillion, the value of a vaccine would be nearly $1 trillion. In a recent colloquium …

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Masks work

That is based on an event study approach from a recent Health Affairs article by Lyu and Wehby (2020). Specifically, Mandating face mask use in public is associated with a decline in the daily COVID-19 growth rate by 0.9, 1.1, 1.4, 1.7, and 2.0 percentage points in 1–5, 6–10, 11–15, 16–20, and 21 or more …

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LA: Distance learning only

The New York Times reports: California’s two largest public school districts said on Monday that instruction would be online-only in the fall, in the latest sign that school administrators are increasingly unwilling to risk crowding students back into classrooms until the coronavirus is fully under control.The school districts in Los Angeles and San Diego, which …

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Some good news

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the US, there was some good news last week from this year’s AIDS conference. Due to COVID-19, the conference had to be held remotely. One policy goal is known as the 90:90:90, which means to identify 90% of HIV cases, treat 90% of those identified and supress viral …

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What explains the decline in COVID deaths despite the rising number of cases?

Take a look at these two graphs. The first gives the number of new COVID-19 cases from John Hopkins University. It is a scary graph. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases The second graph is the number of COVID deaths from IHME. Not nearly as bad. https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america CDC reported death numbers are similar. In fact, the number of deaths in …

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Disparities in COVID-19 hospitalization rates

Azar et al. (2020) use electronic health record data to examine differences in COVID-19 hospitalization rates by patient characteristics. The authors find that: …compared with non-Hispanic white patients, nonHispanic African American patients had 2.7 times the odds of hospitalization, after adjustment for age, sex, comorbidities, and income. These findings echo similar COVID-19-related conclusions across California. …

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