Complexities of COVID-19 manufacturing

Getting from a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to scaling to manufacture these vaccines for billions of people is far from simple: Manufacturing mRNA vaccines for the first time in a very short timeframe required significant innovation and remains a technically challenging endeavor. The process proved to be technically challenging as Pfizer developed a 50,000 step process.…

COVID-19 in California: An update

A few updates on COVID-19 from where I am living. First while we see a dramatic decline in COVID-19 infections and deaths, there is a fair amount of regional variation within California. The Sacramento Bee reports that: The average number of new COVID infections reported each day dropped by an astounding 98% from December to…

Impact of COVID-19 on CMS’ value-based programs

Many Medicare payment initiatives aim to link reimbursement to value. Value includes both cost and quality of care. However, measuring quality of care during a pandemic is problematic. Further, most of CMS’ value-based purchasing programs–such as Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) and the Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) Reduction Program all…

COVID-19’s collateral deaths

People are not just dying from COVID, but the quarantine’s–while necessary–did exacerbate mental health issues for many individuals. This is especially true for individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. This American Life‘s had a recent episode showing how isolation likely accelerated the downward spiral of the narrator’s grandmother, who suffered from dementia. The Alzheimer’s…

“Mr. Biden is wrong”

That was the conclusion of The Economist on his decision to suspend intellectual property protections for the makers of COVID-19 vaccines. In the article “Ten million reasons to vaccinate the world“, they write: Many experts argue that, because some manufacturing capacity is going begging, millions more doses might become available if patent-owners shared their secrets,…

COVID-19 vaccination update

This weekend I received my second COVID-19 vaccine. While I certainly feel lucky to live in a country with ample vaccine supply, other countries are not so lucky. Let’s take a look at the numbers from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. These numbers are updated through May 2, 2021. First, you’ll see that…

Excess deaths due to COVID-19

Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and US Census Bureau, Woolf et al. (2021) find: Between March 1, 2020, and January 2, 2021, the US experienced 2 801 439 deaths, 22.9% more than expected, representing 522 368 excess deaths…The excess death rate was higher among non-Hispanic Black (208.4 deaths per 100 000) than non-Hispanic White…

We Have Vaccines, Now What?

That is the title of my latest publication with co-authors Marlon Graf, Rifat Tuly, Christoph Glaetzer, Stacey Hickson, and Joey Mattingly. The subtitle is “How to Ensure Continued COVID-19 Vaccine Discovery and Expedite Access“. The abstract is below. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in a catastrophic burden in both health and economic…