• U.S. Gun Violence Increased 30 Percent During COVID-19 Pandemic

    Gun violence increased by more than 30 percent in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers said that stress, domestic violence, lack of social interactions and greater access to firearms might have contributed to the increase.

  • Targeted Interventions: Containing Pandemics, Minimizing Societal Disruption

    COVID has so far infected 21 million people, with more than 4.5 of them dying. Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), such as case isolation, quarantining contacts, and the complete lockdown of entire countries, often come at the expense of economic disruption, harm to social and mental well-being, and require costly administration costs to ensure compliance.

  • What Can Masks Do?

    Facemasks have been a contentious issue since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, and the discussion of whether or not the wearing of facemasks should be required – and who has the right, if any, to mandate the wearing of facemasks – has become thoroughly politicized. Lisa M Brosseau and colleagues write that the urgency of responding to the pandemic led to many poorly constructed studies, and the circulation of studies before they were peer-reviewed. “Endless unrealistic expectations, along with gross misinterpretation and overconfidence, have been evident, including claims that masks alone would ‘flatten the curve,’ ‘end the pandemic,’ or ‘reduce the clinical severity of COVID-19’.” They write. “Now, one and a half years into the pandemic, if masks were as effective as many believed them to be, we should have seen significant impacts. But that has not been the case anywhere on the globe.”

  • FEMA’s Initial Response to COVID-19

    During the first months of FEMA’s response to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, the United States faced a debilitating shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare personnel and ventilators for seriously ill patients in hospitals. DHS IG examined the effectiveness of FEMA’s response.

  • Enough with the Quackery, Pinker Says

    “Another contributor [to the opposition to vaccines] is the Myside bias, probably the most powerful of all the cognitive biases, namely, if something becomes an article of faith within your own coalition, and if promoting it earns you status, that is what you believe,” says Harvard’s professor of psychology Steven Pinker, whose latest book — Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters – has just been published. “It’s somewhat arbitrary which positions get attached to which coalitions…. It used to be the tree-hugging Mr. and Ms. Naturals who were suspicious of vaccines — a romantic opposition to science and tech made vaccine resistance a leftish cause. But now it’s more attached to the right. In either case, people are more adamant about protecting the sacred beliefs of their political tribe than looking at the best evidence.”

  • Vaccination Could Have Prevented at Least 90,000 U.S. Deaths Since June: Kaiser Report

    A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that at least 90,000 COVID-19 deaths of unvaccinated adults since June could have been prevented with vaccines. Most of the preventable deaths — about 49,000 — occurred in September as the highly transmissible delta variant sparked a surge in cases.

  • New, $125 Million Project Aims to Detect Emerging Viruses

    A new project, funded with $125 million from USAID, aims to detect and characterize unknown viruses which have the potential to spill over from wildlife and domestic animals to human populations. The 5-year project is expected to yield 8,000 to 12,000 novel viruses, which researchers will then screen and sequence the genomes of the ones that pose the most risk to animal and human health.

  • COVID-19 Could Nudge Minds and Societies Towards Authoritarianism

    Humans have not one but two immune systems. The first, the biophysical immune system. The second is the behavioral immune system, which adapts our behavior to preemptively avoid potentially infectious people, places and things. An examination of the impact of the behavioral immune system on our attitudes towards obedience and authority shows that high rates of infectious diseases – and the disease-avoidance they promote – may fundamentally shape political opinions and social institutions.

  • Insights into COVID Vaccine Hesitancy

    Two recent studies looked at COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in minority groups and opinions around less-preferred vaccines, provide clues for how officials might better encourage immunization.

  • Vaccine Passports Are Coming. But Are They Ethical?

    It is the foundational ethical principle of any liberal society that the state should only restrict liberty if people represent a threat of harm to others. Ethics is about weighing different values. Decisions about vaccination should be fundamentally ethical, not political or purely medical.

  • We’re Already Barreling Toward the Next Pandemic

    America’s frustrating inability to learn from the recent past shouldn’t be surprising to anyone familiar with the history of public health. Ed Yong writes that many public-health experts, historians, and legal scholars worry that the U.S. is lapsing into neglect, that the temporary wave of investments isn’t being channeled into the right areas, and that COVID-19 might actually leave the U.S. weaker against whatever emerges next.

  • Social Distancing in Spring of 2020 Effectively Curbed COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany

    Early contact restrictions and school closures prevented over 80 percent of COVID-19 infections and over 60 percent of deaths in Germany within three weeks, a quasi-experimental economic study finds.

  • Life Expectancy Falls in 27 of 29 Nations amid COVID-19

    According to a study of 29 countries, the magnitude of the dip in life expectancy during the COVID-19 pandemic had not been seen in a single year since World War II in Western Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.

  • A COVID-19-Driven Desire for “Conformity and Obedience” Could Boost Authoritarianism: Psychologists

    Psychologists say that human beings have a built-in code of conduct which helps us stay disease-free. This code includes a fear and avoidance of unfamiliar – and so possibly infected – people. When infection risk is high, this parasite stress behavior increases, potentially manifesting as attitudes and even voting patterns that champion conformity and reject ‘foreign outgroups’ – core traits of authoritarian politics.

  • Mandates Give Rise to Booming Black Market for Fake Vaccine Cards

    As more organizations demand proof of inoculation against COVID-19, the black market for fake vaccine cards appears to be booming. Legal experts compare phony vaccine cards to counterfeit money or fake drivers’ licenses.