Anthony Fauci wants to put Covid’s politicization behind him

“After more than five decades of federal service under seven presidents, Anthony Fauci says he’s leaving by the end of President Joe Biden’s term. [..] his assessment, that we’ll live with Covid-19 for many years to come, is a startling admission from the longtime infectious disease expert who said the country could flatten the curve and achieve herd immunity, first through social distancing and then vaccination. [..] If called to testify [to Congress], Fauci will stress the importance of vaccines and boosters, but acknowledge there may never be a definitive moment when the country can claim victory over an evolving … Read More

Smartphone apps promised to help combat the pandemic. How well did they work?

“A new review paper, published Monday in Nature Biotechnology, explores the wide range of apps rolled out to combat the pandemic [..]. Here are four questions that still need to be answered about how apps can combat Covid. [1] How do you get broad swaths of the public to adopt an app? “Contact tracing had a lot of problems,” said [physician and Director of Digital Medicine at Scripps Research Translational Institute and a co-author of the new paper Jay] Pandit. [..] The initial goal for the U.K. National Health Service’s Covid-19 app was to reach a 60% adoption rate. [..] … Read More

We’re Expecting the Wrong Things from the CDC: If you want the CDC to be apolitical, you’re missing the point of public health

Excerpt – No public health decision is purely scientific, so the agency cannot avoid the small-p politics of health policy. No matter what we may yearn for, there is no ethereal scientific plane the CDC can ascend to. “The ‘politicization’ accusation implies that we should just isolate the CDC and let it do its work by itself,” said Gil Eyal, a sociology professor at Columbia University. “But I think that’s wrong. I don’t think we know of an obvious way to organize the relationship between science and politics.” That is, they are always intertwined, especially when it comes to the … Read More

My Father, The Fool: I’d run out of sympathy for COVID skeptics. Then I remembered my father’s stiff neck.

“One of the problems with screaming “How could you be so stupid?” at people who behave stupidly is that we too often think of the question as rhetorical when it isn’t. Though vaccine hesitancy is often seen as purely political, that’s not necessarily the case. It also correlates to lack of health care, which means that when public-health officials urge the unvaccinated to consult their family doctors (on the assumption that they might be more persuasive than government agencies), they’re assuming facts not in evidence. If you can’t afford health insurance, you probably can’t afford a doctor either, and if … Read More

The Pandemic After the Pandemic: Long COVID isn’t going away, and we still do not have a way to fully prevent it, cure it, or really to quantify it.

“But for all we know now about long COVID, it is still not enough. Researchers still don’t know who’s most at risk, or how long the condition might last; whether certain variants might cause it more frequently, or the extent to which vaccines might sweep it away. We do not have a way to fully prevent it. We do not have a way to cure it. We don’t even have a way to really quantify it: There still isn’t consensus on how common long COVID actually is. Its danger feels both amorphous and unavoidable. People already struggle to deal with … Read More

How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal?

“The United States reported more deaths from COVID-19 last Friday than deaths from Hurricane Katrina, more on any two recent weekdays than deaths during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, more last month than deaths from flu in a bad season, and more in two years than deaths from HIV during the four decades of the AIDS epidemic. At least 953,000 Americans have died from COVID, and the true toll is likely even higher because many deaths went uncounted. COVID is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after only heart disease and cancer, which are both catchall terms … Read More

The Biden Administration Killed America’s Collective Pandemic Approach

“Coronavirus case numbers are in free fall; vaccines and, to a lesser degree, viral infections have built up a wall of immunity that can blunt the virus’s impact overall. Several experts stressed that certain aspects of the CDC’s new guidelines are genuinely improving on the framework the country was using before. “The timing feels right to make some kind of change,” Whitney Robinson, an epidemiologist at Duke University, told me. But protection against SARS-CoV-2 isn’t spread equally. Millions of kids under 5 are still ineligible for shots. Vaccine effectiveness declines faster in older individuals and is patchy to begin with … Read More

How New England caught the COVID deaths much of the country missed

“The USA TODAY Network in New England and the Documenting COVID-19 project partnered to investigate how New England became a positive data anomaly in terms of COVID death reporting accuracy. Across the region, excess deaths during the pandemic are almost completely accounted for by official COVID deaths, according to our analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mortality data and expected death models developed by demographers at Boston University. In other parts of the country, these COVID deaths were missed or certified incorrectly as other causes. [..] Hospitals are a dominant and central data source to capture the pandemic’s … Read More

Observed to Expected Excess Mortality for the United States, Updated December 27, 2020

Here is this week’s refresh of the excess mortality count from the CDC (last updated December 23). The federal agency identified over 387,000 excess deaths across the country since the start of this year (about 20 thousand more than last week’s estimate). The overall excess mortality rate rose from 12.0% last week to 12.3% this week. Data from CDC’s National Center of Health Statistics, updated December 23, 2020

Observed to Expected Excess Mortality for the United States, Updated December 19, 2020

Here is this week’s refresh of the excess mortality count from the CDC (last updated December 16). The federal agency identified over 367,000 excess deaths across the country since the start of this year (about 21 thousand more than last week’s estimate). The overall excess mortality rate rose from 11.6% last week to 12.0% this week. Data from CDC’s National Center of Health Statistics, updated December 16, 2020