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21
Dec
2020

More Than Words. Taking Steps Together Towards Greater Health Equity

Healthcare leaders have made many commitments this year on racial equity. The question now is how we turn words into action. Over the past couple years, I’ve become a believer in the power of small groups that share an immersive, cultivated experience. In September, I convened one such group on a two-day virtual journey to Montgomery, Alabama. This virtual conference...
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20
Dec
2020

Science in the Face of Fear: Vaccine Hesitancy and Public Trust

This month has been a media whipsaw. News of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines’ compelling efficacy and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s rapid response and issuance of an Emergency Use Authorization for both vaccines have been met with equal parts jubilation and fear from a divided public. For me, as a medical virologist and researcher, this remarkable achievement...
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17
Dec
2020

A Grateful Physician Reflects on Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Tonight, I will receive my first dose of vaccine against COVID-19. I’m a hospitalist on the front lines, taking care of patients with COVID-19 in Philadelphia. The progress of this year takes my breath away. One year ago, in December 2019 in China, people starting falling seriously ill with pneumonia-like symptoms. By January 2020, a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was identified...
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11
Dec
2020

The Vaccine Is Coming, and Scientists Need to Keep the Focus on Equity

As we navigate this pandemic, the discourse has often created a fog. Science has been doing what it does – forming hypotheses, testing them, gathering vast amounts of data, and pressure-testing conclusions with unprecedented urgency. The ideas that pass scrutiny are being elevated into recommendations, while others are being discarded. Science isn’t perfect. It is practiced by people, and people...
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9
Dec
2020

Priority for Next Administration: Tech-Ready Health Leadership

From the moment Joe Biden takes the oath in January, his Administration will confront a brutal onslaught of urgent health challenges. The work starts with the complex distribution of a multi-dose vaccine to a remarkably skeptical public. To do this job, and countless others, there is a desperate need to upgrade the nation’s health data capabilities, which were pressure-tested by COVID-19...
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7
Dec
2020

Vaccine Trials: A Band of Brothers and Sisters

On Dec. 2, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article coauthored by many prominent medical scientists, including physicians, who advocated for extending the time in which volunteers in the placebo group enrolled in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 clinical trials should be followed.   Essentially, they are arguing that the study volunteers – people who sacrificed for the...
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3
Dec
2020

AZ’s Muddy Result, Regeneron Cocktail OK’d, and Biogen, Sage Bet Big on Depression

Take two weeks between Frontpoints columns, and a lot of stuff happens. On Monday Nov. 23, AstraZeneca presented a muddy picture from its Phase III clinical trial with a COVID-19 vaccine developed on adenovirus technology with Oxford University. It’s either delivering 90 percent efficacy or 62 percent efficacy, depending on the dose. So it’s either great or good, but we’re...
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1
Dec
2020

Vaccine Scarcity: Buckle Up for Debate

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are likely to secure Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from the FDA by Christmas. These are amazing gifts of science. They also arrive with high expectations from a weary public, especially since the clinical trials of these mRNA vaccines indicate near-complete protection from severe disease. These first two vaccines arrive at the most tumultuous time yet...
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1
Dec
2020

COVID-19 Drives New Push for CRISPR-Based Home Diagnostics

Though polymerase chain reaction, PCR, is regarded as the gold standard in molecular diagnostics, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken off some of the shine. Under normal circumstances, samples processed in commercial diagnostic labs that run standard PCR machines can take hours to yield results. In a pandemic, with a surge in demand for tests, turnaround times are creeping upward and...
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