IPR biological anthropologist Thomas McDade is developing a new means of testing for antibodies in SARS-CoV-2, the official name for the virus that causes COVID-19. McDade’s approach will involve using a blood test to identify SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Those antibodies remain in the blood longer once the infection is gone.
Charles F. Manski
A report by Imperial College’s COVID-19 Response Team made waves in the media, immediately shifting U.S. and U.K. policies from less invasive mitigation strategies to slow rates of infection. However, IPR economist Charles F. Manski, an expert in decision making, argues the report’s recommendation for suppression as the policy was unjustifiable because it was based on flawed modeling.
IPR economist Hannes Schwandt shows the rate of reported COVID-19 deaths among pregnant mothers is low, and while infections occur in pregnant mothers, most of them experience mild cases or show no symptoms. His research also finds that graduating during a recession can have long-term economic consequences for job seekers, which has direct implications during the COVID-19 recession.
Community-Based Research Shows More People Exposed to COVID-19 Virus Than Previously Known
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
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
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
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
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
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.