Author Archives: 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.

Sorting through the controversies over pandemic mask-wearing


Photo: Joe Loong via Flickr

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said the U.S. should have a national mask mandate. President-elect Joe Biden is in talks with governors to try to implement one when he takes office in January.

Mask wearing, however, remains a political hot-button. President Trump and many other Republicans have called mandates an overreach of the government and encroachment on freedom. Biden will have lots of work to depoliticize mask-wearing, NPR reports.

So, what is the latest on the science of masks? Continue reading

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

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

Biden coronavirus task force members announced

Coronavirus CG Illustration

Photo: Yuri Samoilov via Flickr

If you want to know how seriously President-elect Joe Biden is taking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, look no further than the set of scientists, physicians and experienced global health specialists he has selected to be members of his coronavirus task force.

On Monday morning, the Washington Post reported the names of the task force members. Journalists will want to quickly get up to speed on who they are. Though Biden doesn’t take office until January 20, he is already moving to work with governors and members of Congress to shape communications and policy approaches that will influence the U.S. approach to COVID-19 in the near and long term. Continue reading

President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 plan includes national testing strategy, boost in contact tracing


By Michael Stokes – Biden13, CC BY 2.0,

President-elect Biden reportedly plans to announce his COVID-19 task force on Monday, sending Americans a signal that getting the pandemic under control will be his top priority.

Three co-chairs will lead the task force: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, former FDA Commissioner David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale physician-researcher, according to Axios. The group may also include Ezekiel Emanuel, provost for Global Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and a former health policy adviser to President Obama and Nicole Lurie, a health policy fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and former pandemic preparedness adviser to Obama. Continue reading

New York Times health reporter shares COVID-19 resources, tips

Apoorva Mandavilli

Apoorva Mandavilli

Eight months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, there are still many unknowns about the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, and journalists are continually looking for new resources.

New York Times science and global health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli recently offered lots of tips to reporters on where to look for experts, how to cultivate them and what to do when health officials change their official guidance on COVID-19, or even contradict themselves. Continue reading

Super bug threat potential rising with COVID-19

Photo: Naoki Takano 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.

Continue reading