Past News

In the Vaccine Race, Safety First

Especially given how quickly we are trying to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s a good sign that the AstraZeneca trial paused to investigate an unexplained illness, commented Susan Ellenberg, PhD.

Read the story in The Washington Post.
Vaccines: Where We Stand Now

Susan Ellenberg, PhD, comments on the state of COVID-19 vaccine development: She hopes people are reassured by the AstraZeneca trial's pause for safety and says it's unlikely that we’ll have a vaccine this fall.

Listen to the segment on KCBS San Francisco.
Emptier Offices, Fewer Infections

New COVID-19 infections were about 30 percent lower in counties where the highest number of people stopped going in to their offices for work, found research led by Joshua Baker, MD, MSCE.

Read the article in The Daily Mail.
When a Vaccine Arrives

When we’re offered a COVID-19 vaccine, we should ask: Does it protect people, without causing major toxicities or health problems? If so—and after the FDA and its expert committees review— “I will certainly be in line to get one," Susan Ellenberg, PhD, commented on the radio show Ask an Expert.

Listen to the interview on the Bay Area's KCBS.
Treating HIV and TB Simultaneously

For tuberculosis patients who are also HIV-positive, mortality risk is up to four times higher. Gregory Bisson, MD, MSCE, comments on how we can dramatically improve their chances.

Read the article in Forbes.
Fall in Philadelphia: The Local COVID Picture

For a useful COVID-19 analogy, look to the time before antilock brakes, says Michael Levy, PhD. “You had to slam on the brakes, ease up a little and apply the brakes again—and eventually the car would stop.”

Read his comments in Philadelphia Magazine.
Clinical Trials in the Current Pandemic

Some of COVID-19's scientific challenges resemble those faced in the past—with HIV, SARS, H1N1 and Ebola—while others are new. Susan Ellenberg, PhD, unpacks what we need to know about clinical trials during the current pandemic. Read the perspective piece in Clinical Trials.

Take Precautions Now

Seeing groups hanging out together at concerts, bars and parties with few masks in sight, “It’s not surprising that people are spreading the virus,” Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, MPH, MSCE, told Philadelphia’s NBC10.

View the story on ABC.
COVID-19 Trials: A Teachable Moment

The pandemic presents an opportunity to rethink the way we do clinical research, write Stephen Kimmel, MD, MSCE, and collaborators.

Read the opinion piece in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Uber or Lyft During the Pandemic?

M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS, comments on the safety of ride sharing services during the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the article in The Huffington Post.
COVID-19 Effects of Blood Pressure Drugs Uncertain

Jordana Cohen, MD, MSCE, and co-investigator Julio Chirinos, MD, launched an international, multisite study to find out more about how ACE inhibitors and ARBS affect COVID-19. They are cautious about the drugs’ effects until they finish their research.

Read the article in The Washington Post
Preparing for the Next Crisis: A Strategy To Save Safety-Net Hospitals

Peter Reese, MD, MSCE, and co-authors outline strategies to help save financially vulnerable safety-net hospitals that are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and at the risk of bankruptcy.




Read the essay on the Health Affairs blog.
Why the COVID Numbers Are Murky

Health officials need good reporting to “understand the relationship between the epidemic that we can’t see, and the data that we can see,” commented Michael Levy, PhD.

Read the article in The New York Times.
How to Reopen Philadelphia Schools

To reopen schools safely amidst the continuing pandemic, group Philadelphia school students into small, closed “pods” that meet outdoors as much as possible, recommend Michael Z. Levy, PhD, and Penn colleague Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA.

Read the op ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
COVID Numbers That Don’t Add Up

On Philadelphia local television, Michael Levy, PhD, elaborated on the difficulties of mixing data from COVID-19 genetic tests and antibody tests.

View the segment on Fox 29.
Mapping COVID, Risk Varies by Community

An update to data from a team that includes Jing Huang, PhD, and Gregory Tasian, MD, MsC, MSCE, shows that a cautious, incremental reopening strategy can help mitigate risk for a second wave. But some areas that have too quickly relaxed social distancing face high risk for resurgence. 

Read the article in The Washington Post.
COVID-19 Deaths in PA’s Delaware County

Per Michael Levy, PhD, a contrast between the rates in a high-income zip code and, say, Chester City would be glaring.

Read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Be Ready for a Second Wave

Michael Z. Levy, PhD, commented in Spanish on regional station Telemundo 62 about COVID-19 in the Philadelphia area. His message: “The first wave hit us hard; we weren't ready. Now we can prepare and get our balance for the next one.”

View the segment on Telemundo 62.
Don’t Expand Your Quarantine Circle Yet

With COVID19 testing not available for all, “there’s no way to calculate your risk right now between households,” comments Michael Levy, PhD.

Read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer
Organ Transplants Plummet During COVID-19 Pandemic

The US and France have seen far fewer transplantations w/the advent of COVID-19, found a team including Peter Reese, MD, MSCE. Among the many reasons: An organ donor takes up an ICU bed and a ventilator.

Read the article in US News & World Report
In the Dash to a Vaccine, Careful Steps Needed

Susan Ellenberg, PhD, commented today on ABC’s Good Morning America about good clinical trial practice: As we race toward a COVID-19 vaccine, she feels we should not cut corners.  

View the segment on Good Morning America
Beating Covid-19 Will Take Coordination

COVID-19 clinical trials to develop treatments will get answers faster if people collaborate, Susan Ellenberg, PhD, commented.  “As some treatments show evidence of benefit, we will be moving to studies of drug combinations, and these trials will require larger sample sizes — meaning, in most cases, multicenter trials.”

Read the article in The Nation
The 'Second-Week Crash’ of Some COVID-19 Patients

Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, MPH, MSCE, commented on sudden second-week decline in some patients with COVID-19. Two and a half months into the pandemic, it’s well documented, “but we’re still not sure why it happens,” he said.

Read the article in The Washington Post
Measuring COVID-19 in Allentown, PA

Jing Huang, PhD, commented that in Lehigh County, PA, a previously high rate of COVID-19 transmission appeared to drop—perhaps because, as suggested by cell phone data, residents began more effectively social distancing. But comparisons between cities, said Michael Levy, PhD, are difficult, given the lack of comparable rigorous data.

Read the article in the Allentown Morning Call
Job #1: Know How Many Are Sick

Before we relax social distancing, we need a better picture of how many people are really infected with COVID-19. Otherwise, the rate “drop” states have been told should signal them to reopen isn’t real, Jennifer Pinto-Martin, PhD, MPH, told ABC News. 

See the interview on ABC News Australia.
The Coronovirus Pandemic, Up Close

M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS, and others at Penn Medicine are giving us a heartfelt view from the front lines of COVID-19.

Read the article in The Philadelphia Inquirer
Why Are So Many Black Americans Dying of COVID-19?

Across the United States, black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates than their white counterparts. If the data from other large cities hold true in Philadelphia — where 41 percent of residents are African American — the emerging recognition of disparities demands our immediate attention, write Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, and Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE.

Read the opinion piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer
Recovered But Still Cautious

It is possible for recovered patients to transmit COVID-19 through contact, like touching a surface, cautions Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, MPH, MSCE. “The same things that you were doing before — meticulous hand hygiene, decontamination of environmental surfaces, not shaking hands, sneezing into your elbow — those are all good pieces of advice.”

Read the article in The New York Times
New Framework for Clinical Trials During Disease Outbreaks

The path to vaccines and treatments during epidemics such as COVID-19: Hoping to avoid mistakes made during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Susan Ellenberg, PhD, and coauthors of the WHO’s R&D Blueprint group call for a new clinical trials “core protocol.”

Read the sounding board piece in New England Journal of Medicine
What a Ventilator Shortage Means During COVID-19 — and How We Can Help

We believe that as many as one million Americans who fall victiem to COVID-19 will need the support of ventilators — five times the number we have, writes critical care physician Meghan Brooks Lane-Fall, MD, MSHP, FCCM. However, there are at least three steps we can take to give everyone the best chance.

Read the opinion piece in The Philadelphia Inquirer
Drugs That Might Treat COVID-19: No, We Can’t Just Let People Try Them

President Trump has argued for widespread use of some promising drugs for COVID-19: “What have you got to lose?” Patients treated with drugs that haven’t been adequately studied have plenty to lose, writes Susan Ellenberg, PhD, in Slate.

Read the opinion piece in Slate
Moving Forward Clinical Trials for COVID-19 Treatment

On WITF public radio, Susan Ellenberg, PhD, commented about the pressure on current clinical trials for COVID-19 therapeutics. “It’s not so different from the way it was years ago, when I was at the NIH during the early days of the AIDS epidemic,” she says.Hear the segment starting at minute 23:50.

Hear the comments on WITF's Smart Talk
Stages of Social Distancing

Michael Levy, PhD, doesn’t think we can maintain our initial social distancing standards for the duration of the COVID-19 epidemic, he told the Associated Press. “The analogy of pumping car brakes on an icy road is what we should be thinking about.”

Read the article in The New York Times
A Healthy Way to Sweat Out a Pandemic

Speaking with The Atlantic, Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, advised on exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic: It's okay to go for a walk outside, but maintain safe social distance from people you encounter.

Read the article in The Atlantic
The Coronavirus Is Here to Stay, So What Happens Next?

Think in terms of months, not weeks, write medical ethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, Susan Ellenberg, PhD (biostatistics) and Michael Levy, PhD (epidemiology) in a New York Times opinion piece. We need to stop picturing that ubiquitous “flatten the curve” chart and start imagining a roller coaster.

Read the op ed in The New York Times
Unraveling the Danger of Lung Transplants

Why are so many patients dying after lung transplants? A new study led by Jason Christie, MD, MSCE, aims to identify risk factors for chronic lung allograft dysfunction, the top cause.

Read the article in Philadelphia Magazine
Last-Minute Amendment Weakens Bed Bug Bill

Michael Levy, PhD, argues that a last-minute amendment weakens Philadelphia’s plan to stop being the nation's No.1 most bedbug infested city. Bedbugs are difficult to eliminate from homes, but they are not so difficult to control in a city, he writes. With the proper push, Philadelphia could turn around the epidemic.

Read the op ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Transplanted Hepatitis C-Infected Kidneys Function Well, Study Finds

"Our study showed that transplants with HCV-infected kidneys are now routinely performed at many centers, and they are functioning well at one year after transplant," said study co-leader Peter Reese, MD, MSCE.

Read the article in US News and World Report.
Climate Change Is Hurting Philadelphians’ Health

Chronically ill people, especially, are at risk in hot weather, comments Sean Hennessy, PharmD, PhD. His team has found some protective measures: heart failure patients who take diuretics, for instance, are more likely to survive hot temperatures if they also take potassium supplements.

Read the story in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Overhauling Kidney Care

President Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at improving the care of kidney patients. In an interview, Nwamaka D. Eneanya, MD, MPH, commented that a goal of having 80% of patients with end-stage kidney disease use home dialysis or receive a transplant would be a monumental change.

Listen to the interview on NPR.