If AstraZeneca’s vaccine is authorized, be prepared to write those explainers

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

AstraZeneca

Photo: Cheshire East Council via Flickr

Just a day after AstraZeneca announced long-awaited interim results from its U.S. phase 3 trial earlier this week, the company again became mired in controversy about what’s going on with its vaccine.

The trial’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) — a group of independent experts who monitor the safety and efficacy of a drug or intervention during a trial — sent a memo to the company and government health officials, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), contesting the company’s portrayal of its vaccine’s efficacy. Continue reading

New report calls for U.S. universal coverage of long-term care for older adults

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, 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.

Participants in Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s SHARE housing program during pandemic

Photo: Governor Tom Wolf via Flickr

The heavy toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on older Americans highlights the need to strengthen the nation’s safety net for those requiring long-term services and supports, according to a new report in the Milbank Quarterly.

The report proposes a system of universal coverage to support long-term care for all older Americans. But we’ve been down this road before — trying for decades to create a viable, cohesive long-term care system. What makes anyone think things will be different this time around? Continue reading

Story ideas for covering COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

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.

Video screen capture: National Association of Broadcasters

National Association of Broadcasters

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, Americans want to know more about safety and potential side-effects (including any possible long-term impact on fertility), as well as the logistics of getting their shot, according to a recent survey, according to a new survey.

Media research firm SmithGeiger conducted the survey, which was partially funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. It was shared first with AHCJ members during a March 17 webcast about potential story ideas for journalists covering the vaccine rollout and efforts by public health leaders to boost confidence in the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Continue reading

Legislation update: The PRO Act passes the House and is now in the Senate

About Jeanne Erdmann and Kendall Powell

Jeanne Erdmann (@jeanne_erdmann) is a member of AHCJ's board of directors and is chair of the freelance committee. Freelance science writer Kendall Powell (@KendallSciWrite) covers the realm of biology, from molecules to maternity.

Congress

Photo: Bodo Tasche via Flickr

Recently, the House passed the PRO Act (H.R. 842 Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021). This legislation is described as a bill that protects workers’ right to organize, but there’s an issue of particular concern to freelancers — and editors and publishers who hire them.

The bill is now with the U.S. Senate. Freelancers in many areas including independent screenwriters, photographers, songwriters, models, accountants, and financial advisers are most concerned because the legislation uses California’s ABC Test to decide who is an employee and who is an independent contractor.

Under the, ABC Test, a worker is considered an employee and not an independent contractor, unless the hiring entity satisfies all three of the following conditions: Continue reading

How one journalist pivoted her writing during the pandemic

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.

Stephani Sutherland

Stephani Sutherland

At the beginning of the pandemic, Stephani Sutherland, a freelance writer focused on chronic pain issues, was — like many writers — finding that publications suddenly wanted COVID-19 stories and not much else.

Sutherland, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, decided to get up to speed in areas of infectious diseases and virology as fast as she could. As she delved into the research, she learned about an interesting connection between pain research and some of the long-term symptoms being felt by those infected with SARS-CoV-2, such as brain fog and loss of smell. Continue reading

New Alzheimer’s drug shows promise, but don’t celebrate yet

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, 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.

Photo: vestque via Flickr

Photo: vestque via Flickr

A recent announcement by drugmaker Eli Lilly that its drug donanemab slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s by nearly one-third is giving many patients, caregivers and providers reason for optimism. But let’s not do a happy dance quite yet.

I don’t want to diminish anyone’s hope, especially the estimated 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. But it’s prudent to remember that other drug companies have shown promising initial results for Alzheimer’s drugs, only to find that larger-scale Phase 3 trials didn’t pan out, as Gina Kolata of The New York Times notes. Continue reading