Author Archives: Bara Vaida

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.

Super bug threat potential rising with COVID-19

Photo: Phalinn Ooi via Flickr

If you are looking for an undercovered story during this pandemic, take a look at the continued threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

There isn’t a lot of data out there, but scientists are watching for signs that COVID-19 patients are being overtreated with antibiotics, which could lead to a surge in super bugs – the term for bacteria and fungus that are resistant to most, if not all, antibiotics.

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Advice on repairing public trust in the CDC

coronavirus-testkit-sample-5-(1)

Photo: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionThis is the CDC’s laboratory test kit for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

With public trust at an all-time low in government scientists and public health agencies, what can be done to repair confidence in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with an eye toward preparing for the next pandemic?

Though it may seem too early to be thinking about another pandemic, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a New York-based non-partisan think tank is doing just that. On Oct. 8, the CFR issued a report – “Improving Pandemic Preparedness: Lessons from COVID-19” – to provide a roadmap for getting the U.S. out of the pandemic and respond to the next one. Continue reading

Follow COVID-19 research money to find stories near you

scientist-with-microscopeThe timeless advice sometimes attributed to Deep Throat or Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein to “follow the money” certainly applies to COVID-19.

For reporters looking for local stories, follow the money doled out by the National Institutes of Health for COVID-19 research. Most recently, the National Cancer Institute, which received $306 million from Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, announced the first grants and contracts to researchers to form the Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19. Continue reading

Updated tips to prepare for a complicated flu season this year

flu-thermometer

Photo: volkspider via Flickr

Until 2020, many Americans (except health reporters) tended to consider influenza as just a nuisance winter illness that might keep one in bed for a few days. However, this year, with COVID-19 still roiling the country, the flu needs to be considered more seriously.

Adding to concerns are polls showing that people may be reluctant to get a flu shot, which may influence others to hold off. CNN reports that one in three parents said they had no plan to go to their doctor’s office and vaccinate their kids, even though more than 100 children die of the flu each year. Most of the children that die from the flu didn’t get a flu shot. Continue reading

Veteran editor, educator discusses where to look for COVID-19 enterprise stories

COVID-19

Seven months into this pandemic, I know many health journalists may be struggling to stay on top of the unending breaking news about the pandemic. Developing national and local enterprise stories about COVID-19 can seem overwhelming.

If you haven’t already, I recommend signing up for Al Tompkins’ COVID-19 morning email. It is free and chock-full of story ideas and context that you can use for local, state, and national coverage that goes beyond a breaking news story. Continue reading

Infectious disease doctors warn Americans to prepare for the worst with flu season

coronavirus-mask-doctor

Photo: Daniel Foster via Flickr

Infectious disease physicians warned Americans to prepare for the worst case scenario this winter –people will be exposed to a surge of multiple dangerous viruses at the same time – SARS-CoV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) and strains of the influenza virus.

“We have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Dr. Leonard Mermel, medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island hospital, told reporters at a Sept. 10 briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “If there was ever a year to get the flu vaccine … and … you could reduce the risk of having these two viruses infect you at the same time or your loved one … this is the year.” Continue reading