For some, ‘mild’ illness from Omicron feels like anything but

Richard Schwartzstein, MD (Critical Care Medicine, Pulmonary Disease, BIDMC) discussed the strain on the hospital system’s impact on the spread of Omicron infections noting how with positive cases and quarantines thinning already overstretched staff, health care systems are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

Many COVID-19 vaccine side effects caused by placebo effect: Study

A new study led by Julia Haas, PhD and Ted Kaptchuk (Program in Placebo Studies, BIDMC) and published in JAMA Network Open shows more than two-thirds of the common side-effects people experience after a COVID-19 vaccine can be attributed to a negative version of the placebo effect rather than the vaccine itself. In view of their results, the researchers argue that better public information about nocebo responses may improve COVID-19 vaccine uptake by reducing the concerns that make some people hesitant.

Lo más importante es la salud y la familia”

In this first person piece, Leonor Fernandez, MD (Medicine, BIDMC) shares that by informing and protecting ourselves, we can help protect our loved ones, and also support our health care workers who are working hard to give the best care possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s Holding Up New Omicron Vaccines?

With COVID-19 mutating rapidly, vaccine makers have tested a number of variant-specific vaccines, yet none of these have come close to authorization. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC), spoke to why we haven’t seen variant specific vaccines authorized, noting it takes four to six months to generate new batches of variant-specific vaccine for distribution and that new variants can emerge and flame out in that timeline.

N95 Masks Can Be Decontaminated at Least 25 Times, Study Shows

A study published last week in the American Journal of Infection Control found that some N95 masks can be safely cleaned and recycled several times without losing their effectiveness. The study was conducted by researchers from BIDMC and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From skiing to shopping to testing, here’s what you need to know to stay safe during Omicron

As Omicron continues to be responsible for nearly all new COVID-19 infections in Massachusetts, experts shared advice on how people can apply the latest news about Omicron to their daily life. Jason Maley, MD (Pulmonary Disease, BIDMC), discussed whether people can get long COVID if vaccinated and boosted.

What to know about ‘flurona’

Amid a new pandemic surge, experts stress that “flurona” – a term coined to describe what happens when a person tests positive for the flu and COVID-19 at the same time – is not a new disease or a new variant of COVID-19. Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC) said both [flu and COVID-19] are common and it is not unexpected that some people would be infected at the same time.

Closing schools won’t stop omicron. It’ll just hurt kids.

In this opinion piece, Westyn Branch-Elliman, MD (Infectious Disease, BIDMC) and other infectious disease experts discuss how moving to remote learning is an approach rooted in misunderstandings about how viruses spread and a refusal to acknowledge what has been learned two years into the coronavirus pandemic – evidence shows closing schools is not an effective way to contain the virus and is, in fact, harmful to children and how there are better ways of keeping the community safe than taking in-school learning away from children.

Omicron could peak in U.S. fairly soon. Maybe.

Based on the quick rise and precipitous drop of Omicron in South Africa, Harvard experts are cautiously hopeful about a possible decline of the surging COVID variant in the very near future, even as they warn of dramatic case spikes, overloaded hospitals, and slowly rising deaths in the interim. During a media call Tuesday, coronavirus experts at MassCPR, including Dan Barouch, MD, PhD (Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, BIDMC), discussed how important key questions remain unanswered and that the experience in South Africa — whose population is much younger than that of the U.S. — may not be mirrored here.