Pandemic expert says transparency key to a successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: Departement des Yvelines via Flickr

Hilary Marston, M.D., medical officer and policy adviser for pandemic preparedness at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said she and her colleagues are “thrilled” about announcements that at least two COVID-19 vaccines so far have been shown to have an efficacy of over 90% in late-stage clinical trials.

“I don’t think any of us could have hoped for those results,” Marston said during a Nov. 18 interview at the AHCJ Journalism Summit on Infectious Disease. “We are … ready to work with the FDA to get the data to them as soon as possible.” Continue reading

NIH head: Journalists have important role in explaining the science behind vaccine development

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at

Francis S. Collins

Francis S. Collins

As coronavirus infections rise nationwide, health care journalists have an important role in explaining the science behind the development, safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health.

As the Nov. 18 keynote speaker at AHCJ’s Journalism Summit on Infectious Disease, Collins gave a stark warning for journalists and all Americans about the need to recognize the value of the vaccines as they are rolled out in the coming months. Continue reading

Intersection of mental health, law enforcement complex, changing

Katti Gray

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

hand gun

Photo: Dmitriy via Flickr

A Philadelphia police officer’s recent, fatal shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr., as he wielded a knife, dramatized how, according to the numbers,  those with mental illness are less likely to do harm than to be harmed, including by law enforcement.

In its most recent report on this topic, “Overlooked in the Undercounted,” the national Treatment Advocacy Center said persons with mental illness were 16 times more likely than those without mental illness to be killed during encounters with law enforcement. While the mentally ill account for 1 in 50 adults, they are estimated to represent 1 in 4 adults who are approached by police, the center’s researchers wrote. Continue reading

How Biden can address health care reform ― without the Senate

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, has been AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curated related material at Follow her on Facebook.


Photo: medipics1066 via Flickr

In my last post, I addressed President-elect Joe Biden’s proposals for expanding the Affordable Care Act and the slim likelihood that programs like a public option could get through a closely divided Senate ― particularly if Republicans end up with a narrow one- or two-seat majority after the Georgia run-offs.

But Biden and the leaders he picks to run HHS and CMS will have broad executive power to shape health care, just as President Donald Trump and his appointees did. Continue reading

Where are the aging experts in Biden’s COVID-19 task force?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Joe Biden

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Consider this: COVID-19 has hospitalizations and deaths among those over 65 are five and 90 times higher respectively than in those 18 to 29, according to the CDC. The rate also is a whopping 13 and 630 times higher among the 85 and older cohort than among younger people. Take into account that while adults 65 and older account for 16% of the U.S. population, they comprise 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the nation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Continue reading

During open enrollment, consumers will need help recognizing plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at

questions1Journalists covering open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act this year will need to separate fact from fiction about the law and about coverage for pre-existing conditions.

As we saw on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether it should strike down the individual mandate and the entire ACA in a case we covered in a blog post on Monday. One of the big issues in any debate involving the ACA is coverage for Americans who have pre-existing conditions. During the coronavirus pandemic, this issue is even more important than it was in previous years because more than 10 million cases have been reported, according to The New York Times. Many of those Americans now have a pre-existing condition they did not have last year. Continue reading