• Developing Drones to Address Pandemic-Related Challenges in Scandinavia

    The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic spurred an immediate need to develop new, innovative systems in supply chains and infrastructure. And for three Norwegian graduate students enrolled in the MIT Professional Education Advanced Study Program (ASP), spring 2020 was the moment when technology, innovation, and preparation met opportunity. The students began working together to transport biological samples using autonomous vehicles.

  • Let Scientific Evidence Determine Origin of SARS-CoV-2: Presidents of the National Academies

    Earlier this week, the leaders of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a statement about the ongoing debate regarding the origins of the COVID-19 virus. “We urge that investigations into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 be guided by scientific principles, including reliance on verifiable data, reproducibility, objectivity, transparency, peer review, international collaboration, minimizing conflicts of interest, findings based on evidence, and clarity regarding uncertainties” they write.

  • The Future of U.S. Pandemic Preparedness

    On May 26, 2021, the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) held a (virtual) public meeting that discussed actions that the United States needs to take to be better prepared for the challenges posed by public health emergencies such as pandemics, “Disease X,” and other biological threats.

  • Urban Crime Fell by over a Third around the World During COVID-19 Shutdowns

    A new analysis of crime rates in 27 cities across 23 countries in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East has found that stay-at-home policies during the pandemic led to an overall drop in police-recorded crime of 37 percent across all the sites in the study.

  • Ghosts in the Machine: Malicious Bots Spread COVID Untruths

    Malicious bots, or automated software that simulates human activity on social media platforms, are the primary drivers of COVID-19 misinformation, spreading myths and seeding public health distrust exponentially faster than human users could, suggests a new study.

  • COVID Origins Probe Should Focus on Lab-Leak Theory, Analysts Say

    Analysts say there is increasing interest in determining whether the coronavirus leaked from a research lab in Wuhan, China, where the deadly virus was first detected in humans, as the U.S. intelligence community acts on President Joe Biden’s directive to “redouble” efforts to investigate the origins of COVID-19.

  • How Virus Detectives Trace the Origins of an Outbreak – and Why It’s So Tricky

    Every time there is a major disease outbreak, one of the first questions scientists and the public ask is: “Where did this come from?” As an expert in viral ecology, I am often asked how scientists trace the origins of a virus. In my work, I have found many new viruses and some well-known pathogens that infect wild plants without causing any disease. Plant, animal or human, the methods are largely the same. Tracking down the origins of a virus involves a combination of extensive fieldwork, thorough lab testing and quite a bit of luck.

  • The Lab-Leak Theory: Evidence Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

    In the justice system, where the most exacting evidentiary standards are applied, Andrew McCarthy writes, the requirement is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not proof beyond all possible doubt. “There is no proof beyond all possible doubt.” And investigative journalists have chronicled for months what must be considered “proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the coronavirus pandemic was generated by an accident — a lab leak, a not-uncommon mishap in medical research conducted by fallible human beings — at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” He adds: “Unless and until China comes forward with convincing evidence that the lab-leak theory is wrong, the position of the United States and the world must be that China is culpable.”

  • The Next Pandemic Is Already Happening – Targeted Disease Surveillance Can Help Prevent It

    As more and more people around the world are getting vaccinated, one can almost hear the collective sigh of relief. But the next pandemic threat is likely already making its way through the population right now. My research as an infectious disease epidemiologist has found that there is a simple strategy to mitigate emerging outbreaks: proactive, real-time surveillance in settings where animal-to-human disease spillover is most likely to occur. In other words, don’t wait for sick people to show up at a hospital. Instead, monitor populations where disease spillover actually happens.

  • U.S. to Make Intelligence on COVID-19 Origins Public

    The United States will share the results of a new deep-dive by its top intelligence agencies into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed millions of people across the globe. Top U.S. intelligence agencies said last year that their information supported “the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified” but that they would “continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence” to determine whether the outbreak began after the virus was transmitted to humans from animals in nature or as the result of a laboratory accident.

  • Lab Leak Theory Gains Momentum

    On Wednesday, 26 May, President Joe Biden urged the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2. This is an about-face from the administration’s earlier reliance on the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate the origins of the pandemic. This is a shift from the assessment that the novel coronavirus emerged naturally, jumping from an animal species to humans.

  • Intelligence Report on COVID-19 Origin

    Amid growing speculation that COVID-19 might have leaked from a Chinese laboratory, U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday instructed federal agencies “to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.” Biden, in a statement, told the U.S. intelligence community “to report back to me in 90 days” after he had received a report this month that had no definitive conclusion.

  • Cummings’s Evidence Reinforces the Impression that Ineptitude over COVID-19 Reflected Errors Made by Individual Ministers. That’s Only Part of the Story

    Cummings’s evidence reinforces the impression that ineptitude over COVID-19 reflected errors made by individual ministers. That’s only part of the story. Insufficient attention has been paid to the inadequate public administration capability of British government as a factor in the COVID-19 response. the center of government lacks capacity, that its policymaking capacity is compromised, and that territorial conflict is growing as key systemic weaknesses that have compromised the UK’s ability to respond to such a crisis.

  • Total Deaths Due to COVID-19 Underestimated by 20% in U.S. Counties

    More than 15 months into the pandemic, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is nearing 600,000. But COVID-19 deaths may be underestimated by 20 percent, according to a new study. The study uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to estimate the number of deaths in 2,096 counties from January to December 2020 above what would be expected in a normal year, or “excess deaths.”

  • What Do We Need to Do to Get Ready for the Next Global Pandemic?

    “Pandemics are going to happen, but we can absolutely prevent the devastation that occurs from a pandemic. We can act now to put us in a position so that when the next pandemic does happen, we don’t have to allow it to get out of control. We can build tools to find it quickly and to act fast. We can build up new public health infrastructure to tackle it once it starts spreading,” says Harvard’s expert Michael Mina.