Tag Archives: research

New tip sheet: High-risk pathogen research and resources for coverage

Image of the Lassa Virus by NIAID via Flickr.

A type of research in which scientists alter the genetic code of pathogens with pandemic potential to understand how they might become more dangerous will be in the political and scientific spotlight this year. We have a new tip sheet to help you cover this complex topic.

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Reporting responsibly on COVID-19 vaccines requires knowing the research landscape

Coronavirus CG Illustration

Photo: Yuri Samoilov via Flickr

A new New York Times perspective piece on whether we’re underselling the various COVID-19 vaccines had public health Twitter abuzz on Jan. 18, with responses ranging from high fives to intense critique. My reaction was in the latter camp. The points I made in this thread (unrolled here) are essential to consider for all journalists reporting on all vaccines and for this virus in particular. I’ve touched on these issues multiple times in the past, particularly the importance of knowing:

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Pfizer vaccine news sounds great — but it’s still data by press release

PfizerVaccine_Blog_Studies_Haelle

Photo: Self Magazine via Flickr

Pfizer made waves Monday with its announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine, developed with partner BioNTech, is “strongly effective,” with a reported efficacy of over 90%. The news was so highly touted that I woke up to multiple texts from friends about it, and it definitely sounds exciting.

The problem? That 90% is almost the only number we know because the company didn’t release additional data for others to read and interpret. Once again, these “extraordinary” findings, as Pfizer’s senior vice president described them to Stat News, were shared as “data by press release,” a worrisome trend during a pandemic. Continue reading

Freshen your skills with online course on reading medical studies

F. Perry Wilson

F. Perry Wilson

When it comes to feeling competent about understanding, interpreting and reporting on medical studies, one under-appreciated fact is that this is a long-term learning process. I first began to really understand how to make sense of medical studies at an AHCJ annual conference workshop.

Still, it wasn’t until I attended that same workshop two more times — and attended a Medicine in the Media workshop at the NIH and did some studying on my own — that I reached a point where I felt I knew what I was doing. Continue reading

New PubMed search site will continue to evolve

PubMedIf you’re a frequent user of PubMed, you have likely already noticed the new website layout and have probably noticed some differences in search options or functionality. The new PubMed was first tested in labs at the National Library of Medicine site in March of 2019 and launched officially in fall 2019, but it wasn’t formally rolled out as the default until May 2020. (The old site is still available for a little longer — at least through the end of October — here.) Continue reading