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Our Response to COVID-19

Our Response to COVID-19

Latest News

What the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Be Like in 2021 Michael Levy, PhD, explained how the end of the CDC’s eviction moratorium on January 1 could lead to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Historically, he said, most people have been able to “double up” when they are evicted, which creates larger households and more opportunities for disease spread. Read the story in The Huffington Post.

The Difficult Timing of Pfizer’s Vaccine Announcement Not only did the good news about the vaccine trial arrive close to the national election. A planned external review was on a collision course with the surge in coronavirus cases that hit the nation over the last month, Susan Ellenberg, PhD, commented. Read the story on Five Thirty Eight.

COVID-19 Vaccine Evidence, by the Numbers The vaccine trials are based on population samples, commented Susan Ellenberg, PhD. “You have to have a number of cases that’s big enough so you can have confidence in your estimate,” she said. Read the story in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

How AI Can Help Us Fight COVID-19 Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help us fight COVID-19, Jason Moore, PhD, told The Washington Post. But if you study only populations that are primarily Caucasian, that may not apply as well nationally, in a more diverse population, he added. Read the article in The Washington Post.

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For the Public

AI in the Age of COVID-19

John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI, shows that artificial intelligence methods can enrich epidemiological models, allowing us to better model population and disease dynamics central to developing policies for COVID-19 prevention, detection + treatment. Watch his National Institutes of Health videocast, the inaugural lecture in the new Ada Lovelace Computational Health Lecture Series of the National Library of Medicine.

COVID Data Science

Jeffrey Morris, PhD, offers reporting and balanced evaluation of research results, data sets, applications and models, and commentaries related to Covid-19 and its underlying virus, SARS-Cov-2 on a robust new website.

So You've Socially Distanced; Now What?

Susan Ellenberg, PhD, commented on the timeline for development of treatments and a vaccine, and Michael Levy, PhD, discussed long-term social distancing options as part of the Leonard Davis Institute's first "Experts at Home" virtual seminar.

Discussion of COVID-19 in Latin America Presented by Penn Arts and Sciences

Ricardo Castillo-Neyra, DVM, PhD, discussed COVID-19 in Peru vs. other Latin American countries; his presentation starts at minute 24. (First up on this program by Penn Arts and Science's Latin America and Latino Studies Program is Dan Erikson of the Penn Biden Center.) See highlights and featured links from the presentation (on DBEI Twitter).

Updates on the Epidemiology of COVID-19 From a European Hotspot

Italy's epidemic is two-to-three weeks ahead of our situation in the U.S.  John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI, a visiting professor in Lombardy, Italy, comments.

April 16 session: View a recording of the session. View Dr. Holmes's slides from the session.

March 19 session: View Dr. Holmes's slides from the sessionDr Holmes elaborates (on DBEI Twitter): How can we judge epidemic curves accurately, since we can’t distinguish a higher rate of new cases from a higher rate of testing? Summary of the session by Penn Today

Coronovirus Symposium Presented by the Penn Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens

Session on the epidemiology of SARS-CoV2 with Michael Levy, PhD

View all sessions with various Penn Medicine experts

For the Penn Community (PennKey log-in required)

DBEI & CCEB COVID-19 Population Sciences Journal Club

Clinical studies on coronavirus are coming at a furious pace and garnering media attention, but not being critically reviewed. The Journal Club, created by the DBEI and the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, applies rigorous scientific methods to evaluate research studies that can inform best practices, policies and further studies. We critically review relevant literature, identify new questions, and explore opportunities to provide answers.

Join the January 27, 10 a.m. session, Penn Medicine community invited: Discussion of "A global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine," with Melanie Kornides, ScD, RN, FNP-BC, and Tuhina Srivastava, MPH, a PhD student in epidemiology. Read the paper in Nature Medicine.
Connect to the full session from a computer or mobile device.  Or connect for audio only: 1.866.226.4650 Meeting ID:  239450016

December 16: Discussion of "Risk Stratification of Patients Admitted to Hospital with COVID-19 Using the ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol: Development and Validation of the 4C Mortality Score," with John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI, and Oscar Mitchell, MD, an MSCE student and Fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Read the paper in BMJ.

December 9: Discussion of "Bidirectional Associations Between COVID-19 and Psychiatric Disorder: Retrospective Cohort Studies of 62,354 COVID-19 Cases in the USA," with Hillary R. Bogner, MD, MSCE, and Danielle Kellier, MD/PhD Student in epidemiology.. Read the paper in The Lancet.

December 2: Discussion of "Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures," with Susan Coffin, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics, Jeffrey Gerber, MD, PhD, MSCE, and Mackenzie Edmondson, MS, PhD candidate in biostatistics. Read the paper in Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Connect to the full session from a computer or mobile device

November 18: Discussion of "Impact of COVID-19 Mitigation Measures on the Incidence of Preterm Birth: A National Quasi-Experimental Study," with Heather H. Burris, MD, MPH, attending neonatologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Carolyn McGann, MD, MSCE student and Neonatology Fellow, CHOP. Read the paper in The Lancet.

November 11: Discussion of "Magnitude, Demographics and Dynamics of the Effect of the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic on All-Cause Mortality in 21 Industrialized Countries," with Robert Gross, MD, MSCE, and Bernadette Alonzo, MPH, PhD student in epidemiology. Read the paper in Nature Medicine.
Connect to the full session from a computer or mobile device
Or connect for audio only: 1.866.226.4650 Meeting ID:  239450016

November 4: Discussion of "Effect of Hydroxychloroquine in Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19" and "Efficacy and Safety of Hydroxychloroquine vs Placebo for Pre-exposure SARS-CoV-2 Prophylaxis Among Health Care Workers: A Randomized Clinical Trial," with Benjamin S. Abella, MD, MPhil, FAHA, and Arielle Marks-Anglin, PhD candidate in biostatistics. Read the papers in The New England Journal of Medicine and in JAMA Internal Medicine.

October 28: Discussion of "Sitagliptin Treatment at the Time of Hospitalization Was Associated with Reduced Mortality in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and COVID-19: A Multicenter, Case-Control, Retrospective, Observational Study" with James Flory, MD, MSCE, Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Adjunct Scholar, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics; and Dominique Medaglio, PharmD, MS, a PhD student in epidemiology and T32 pharmacoepidemiology Postdoctoral Fellow. Read the paper in Diabetes Care.

October 21: Discussion of "Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in a Large Nationwide Sample of Patients on Dialysis in the USA: A Cross-Sectional Study" with Harold I. Feldman, MD, MSCE, and Jill Schnall, PhD student in biostatistics. Read the paper in The Lancet.

October 14: Discussion of "Risk Factors for Positive and Negative COVID-19 Tests: A Cautious and In-Depth Analysis of UK Biobank Data" with Aimin Chen, MD, PhD, and Kuldeep Yadav, PhD student in epidemiology. Read the paper in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

October 7: Discussion of "Association of Vitamin D Status and Other Clinical Characteristics with COVID-19 Test Results," with Mary Regina Boland, MA, MPhil, PhD, FAMIA, and Zihe (Emma) Zheng, MBBS, MHS, PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the article in JAMA Network Open.

Connect to the full session from a computer or mobile device.  
Or connect for audio only: 1.866.226.4650 Meeting ID:  239450016

September 30: Discussion of "Cell Phone Activity in Categories of Places and Associations with Growth in Cases of COVID-19 in the US" with Michael George, MD, MSCE, and biostatistics PhD student Joanna Harton. Read the article in JAMA Network.

September 23: Discussion of "Assessment of SARS-CoV-2 Screening Strategies to Permit the Safe Reopening of College Campuses in the United States" with Ricardo Castillo-Neyra, PhD, DVM, MSPH, and Nicholas Illenberger, PhD candidate in biostatistics. Read the paper in JAMA Network.

September 16: Discussion of "Effect of Remdesivir vs Standard Care on Clinical Status at 11 days in Patients with Moderate COVID-19" with Charles Leonard, PharmD, MSCE, and Garrett Keim, MD, MSCE student. Read the paper in JAMA Network.

July 22: Discussion of "Collider Bias Undermines Our Understanding of COVID-19 Disease Risk and Severity" with Adam Naj, PhD, and Yaqian Zhu, candidate in biostatistics. Read the paper in medRxiv preprint.

July 15:  Disussion of "Household Secondary Attack Rate of COVID-19 and Associated Determinants in Guangzhou, China: A Retrospective Cohort Study" with Vincent Lo Re, MD, MSCE, and Brianna Lindsay, MPH, PhD, epidemiologist and Senior Project Coordinator. Read the article in The Lancet.

July 8: Discussion of "Effect of Dexamethasone in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: Preliminary Report" with Sean Hennessy, PharmD, PhD, and Tara Friebel, MPH, PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the paper in medRxiv preprint.

July 1: Discussion of "Social Network-Based Distancing Strategies to Flatten the COVID-19 Curve in a Post-Lockdown World" with John Holmes, PhD, FACE, FACMI, and Youjin Lee, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Causal Inference. Read the paper in Nature Human Behavior.

June 24:  Discussion of "Practicalities and Pitfalls of Big Data" with Jason Moore, PhD, FACMI, and Silvia Canelon, PhD, postdoctoral research scientist in informatics. Read the two papers (both now retrracted) in The New England Journal of Medicine and in The Lancet.

June 17:  Discussion of "Disparities In Outcomes Among COVID-19 Patients In A Large Health Care System In California," with Allison Willis, MD, MS, and Danielle Abraham, PhD, MPH, postdoctoral researcher in epidemiology and neurology. Read the article in Health Affairs.

June 10: Discussion of "Remdesivir for the Treatment of COVID-19—Preliminary Report," with Susan Ellenberg, PhD, and biostatistics PhD candidate Lily Boe. Read the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine.

June 3: Discussion of "The Experiences of Healthcare Providers During the COVID-19 Crisis in China: a Qualitative Study" with Julia Szymczak, PhD, and Lindsay Glassman, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in epidemiology. Read the paper in Lancet Global Heath.

May 27:  Discussion of "Development and Validation of a Clinical Risk Score to Predict the Occurrence of Clinical Illness in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19" with Erin Schnellinger, PhD student in epidemiology, and Jinbo Chen, PhD will be posted here soon. Read the paper in JAMA Internal Medicine.

May 20: Discussion of "COVID-19 in Children in the United States Intensive Care Admissions, Estimated Total Infected, and Projected Numbers of Severe Pediatric Cases in 2020," with Tuhina Srivastava, MPH, PhD Student in epidemiology, and Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE.
Read the paper in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.

May 13:  Discussion of "Covid-19 and the Renin–Angiotensin–Aldosterone System" with Jordana Cohen, MD, MSCE, and Thomas Hanff, MD, MPH, Penn Cardiology Fellow & MSCE Candidate. Read the two papers in The New England Journal of Medicine: "Cardiovascular Disease, Drug Therapy, and Mortality in Covid-19" and "Renin–Angiotensin–Aldosterone System Blockers and the Risk of Covid-19."

May 6: Discussion of "Outcomes of Hydroxychloroquine Usage in United States Veterans Hospitalized with Covid-19" with Todd Miano, PharmD, PhD, MSCE, Instructor of Epidemiology, and Emily Acton, MSCE, incoming epidemiology PhD Student. Read the preprint on medRxiv.

April 29: Discussion of "Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019" with Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, and M. Elle Saine, PhD, MA, MD/PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the paper in JAMA Network Open.

April 22: Discussion of "Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: A retrospective cohort study" with Gregory Bisson, MD, MSCE, and  Stephanie Teeple, MD/PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the paper in The Lancet.

April 15: Discussion of "Estimating the Number of Infections and the Impact of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions on COVID-19 in 11 European Countries" with Michael Levy, PhD, and Arman Oganisian, PhD candidate in biostatistics. Read the paper by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team.

April 8: Discussion of "Temperature, Humidity and Latitude Analysis to Predict Potential Spread and Seasonality for COVID-19" with Douglas Wiebe, PhD, and Sherrie Xie, VMD/PhD candidate in epidemiology. Read the abstract in SSRN. (You can also create a free account to read the full paper.)

April 1: Discussion of "A Trial of Lopinavir-Ritonavir in Adults Hospitalized with Severe Covid-19" with Stephen E. Kimmel, MD, MSCE, and Neil Dhopeshwarkar, PharmD (PhD student in epidemiology) Read the paper in The New England Journal of Medicine.
 

Research

Past, Present and Future of the Pandemic: Social Distancing Is Key Research led by Jing Huang, PhD; Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE; and David Rubin, MD, MSCE, of  PolicyLab at CHOP, portrays multiple local stories of the pandemic in the US dating back to February of this year—finding that social distancing was, and is, among the most effective interventions to reduce the spread of the disease.

How Informaticians Can Advance COVID-19 Research Critical to research and to the delivery of healthcare during the pandemic is the participation of biomedical informaticians who typically work on other basic science or clinical problems. Fourteen of our informaticians and biostatisticians contributed to a BioData Mining editorial that highlights some prime COVID-19 targets for informatics expertise.

New Model Shows Importance of Local Features in COVID-19 Spread As pressures mount to reopen U.S. businesses that were shuttered to prevent COVID-19 spread, a pressing question is, at what level of government should these judgments be made? A new model of disease transmission shows that city- and county-level characteristics have significant impact. Research leads: David Rubin, MD, MSCE; Gregory Tasian, MD, MSc, MSCE; Jing Huang, PhD

COVID-19 Mortality: Does the Renin-Angiotensin System Play a Role? (article via the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics) Mortality risk from COVID-19 seems to be associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension—disorders that share an underlying pathophysiology related to the renin-angiotensin system. That relationship may provide important clinical insights about how we treat COVID-19—but first, we need to clearly understand the causal mechanism that lies at the heart of it. Lead author Thomas C. Hanff, MD, MPH is a student in the CCEB's Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology program. Additional authors include Michael O. Harhay, PhD, MPH; Tyler S. Brown, MD; Jordana B. Cohen, MD, MSCE; and Amir M. Mohareb, MD.

Predicting Who’s at Risk: Electronic Health Records and a Polygenic Approach May Be Key Why do some people carry a disease like COVID-19 and remain asymptomatic, while others who have no underlying conditions may die from it? Genetics may be key—and an especially promising approach is the polygenic risk score, using data from biobank-linked electronic health records. But there are challenges, write postdoctoral researcher Ruowang Li, PhD; Yong Chen, PhD; Marylyn D. Ritchie, PhD; and Jason H. Moore, PhD.

Facillitating N95 Respirator Re-Use (scroll down to find the full PDF on Science Direct) As supplies of N95 respirators run low in hospitals, a team proposes a way to allow re-use. They suggest repurposing phototherapy devices, including narrow band ultraviolet B units dermatology offices often employ, as platforms for ultraviolet C germicidal disinfection. Authors: Iltefat H.Hamzavi, MD; Alexis B.Lyons, MD; Indermeet Kohli, PhD; Shanthi Narla, MD; Angela Parks-Miller, CCRP, CWCA; Joel M.Gelfand, MD, MSCE; Henry W. Lim, MD; David Ozog, MD

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To understand health and disease today, we need new thinking and novel science —the kind  we create when multiple disciplines work together from the ground up. That is why this department has put forward a bold vision in population-health science: a single academic home for biostatistics, epidemiology and informatics. MORE

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