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As COVID-19 continues to spread in the U.S. and around the globe, its effects have been wide-ranging and abrupt. Millions have been thrown out of work, while societies and economies have been shut down. Social science researchers, including IPR’s interdisciplinary faculty experts, have also been hard at work to understand and address the coronavirus pandemic's ravaging effects on society at large.

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Research Roundup

Child Care in the Time of COVID: How Illinois Resourced Programs to Support (Re)opening

September 2021

In a report, IPR developmental psychologist Terri Sabol examines the distribution throughout Illinois of three key resources meant to support continued child care program operation during the COVID-19 pandemic: (1) Emergency Daycare Licenses to reopen programs during mandated closures for children of essential workers, (2) federal Paycheck Protection Program loans to qualified child care businesses, and (3) Illinois Child Care Restoration Grants, which were funded with federal money under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. 

COVID-19 Antibody Response Falls Two Months After Second Shot

August 2021

How long do the immunity benefits of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines last? A new study by IPR researchers biological anthropologist Thomas McDade, postdoctoral fellow Amelia Sancilio, and professor of medical social sciences Brian Mustanski finds that it may fall as soon as two months after an individual’s second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Among individuals with clinically confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)—the study shows antibody response fell 20% two months after their second dose.

Community-Based Research Shows More People Exposed to COVID-19 Virus Than Previously Known

April 2021

As the U.S. rushes to vaccinate Americans to prevent a wider outbreak of COVID-19, the FDA has currently authorized three vaccines for emergency use, two of which use a two-dose regime. Northwestern University researchers, including IPR anthropologist Thomas McDade are conducting an ongoing community-based study that shows that mild or asymptomatic infections—which comprise the vast majority of infections in the general population— do not generate high levels of protective immunity. The study also shows that a single dose of current two-dose mRNA vaccines does not provide adequate protection for most people who had mild or asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.

Restaurants, Gyms, Cafes, and Other Crowded Indoor Venues Identified as 'Super-Spreader' Sites

November 2020

Using anonymous cell phone data to map the hourly movements of 98 million people to places like restaurants, gyms, and churches, a team of Stanford and Northwestern researchers, including IPR sociologist Beth Redbird has created a computer model that accurately predicted the spread of COVID-19 in 10 of the largest U.S. cities this spring. The researchers also show that people in low-income neighborhoods, many of them essential workers, were less able to reduce their mobility during shutdowns and more likely to be exposed to crowded venues at work or in grocery stores.

Experts Highlight Importance of Water Security Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

August 2020

Doctors and epidemiologists have continually emphasized the importance of handwashing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but still people across the globe struggle to access the clean water necessary to keep themselves and their families safe. IPR anthropologist Sera Young and her co-authors urge policymakers to focus on three key areas to ensure better water security. Studies have shown that nearly a quarter of households in low- to middle-income countries are unable to follow basic handwashing guidelines, and that an estimated 40% of households globally lack access to basic handwashing facilities.

COVID-19 Magnifies Racial Disparities in Health

June 2020

Only 30% of Chicago’s residents are African American, yet as of late June they comprise 44% of those who have died from COVID-19, according to Chicago’s Department of Public Health. Both African American and Latinx residents are also getting sick from COVID-19 at higher rates than White residents.  IPR researchers have heeded the call for data and policy perspectives through surveys and antibody testing. 

Easing the Impact of COVID-19

April 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, with the U.S. now leading the world in reported cases, an international team of leading social scientists came together to analyze what the social and behavioral sciences can tell us about current responses to the pandemic. Among them were IPR faculty political scientist James Druckman and psychologist Eli Finkel. Stanford sociologist Robb Willer and New York University neural psychologist Jay Van Bavel led the overall effort.

Social Science Research in a COVID-19 World

April 2020

IPR experts are responding to unparalleled calls for more evidence to answer pressing questions about the virus’ effect on our social, cultural, political, and economic institutions. These new projects include launching a survey on social and behavioral attitudes, developing a test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and analyzing food insecurity. Read more about their new and ongoing research related to COVID-19.