News & Commentary

Run, do not walk, to get your shot: Boston Globe, July 2021

Should we fear the Delta variant? Yes, if you are unvaccinated. Rob and Shan implore those who have not yet received their Covid-19 immunization to run to their nearest vaccination site. This Boston Globe article explains that the vaccine is the most effective tool against the rapidly spreading Delta variant.

How to Fix the Covid Vaccine Rollout: NYTimes, January 2021

In this NYTimes op-ed, Pharos President Robert Hecht and Managing Director Shan Soe-Lin argue that after immunizing health workers and the elderly in the first phase of vaccination, US states should target hotspot communities in the immediate next phase to slow transmission of the virus and reopen the economy as soon as possible. Such geographic [..]

States Should Decide When Campuses Reopen: Politico, June 2020

In an op-ed in Politico, Robert Hecht and Shan Soe-Lin argue that due to their enormous “epidemiological footprint”, universities should open in the fall of 2020 in a coordinated and regulated manner with thoughtful oversight from the states and cities where they are located. While empathizing with students, parents, and university administrators and appreciate the [..]

Test the Asymptomatic: NYTimes, April 2020

We need to aggressively search for asymptomatic carriers, particularly among people who have frequent contact with the public and among vulnerable populations, Robert Hecht and Shan Soe-Lin argue in this New York Times op-ed. This includes those who are infectious but will never develop symptoms and those who will develop them days after the test. [..]

Guidance Must Change to Include Face Masks: Boston Globe, March 2020

In an op-ed published in the Boston Globe on March 19th, Pharos Managing Director Shan Soe-Lin and President Robert Hecht explain why the prevailing guidance, in the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, against wearing masks is wrong. They urge everyone to cover their face outside the home, in addition to washing hands frequently and practicing social distancing.

Shan and Rob argue that the “don’t touch your face” instruction is impossible for most people to follow as the urge to touch is hard-wired in utero. Studies show that humans touch their noses, eyes and mouths on average every 2.5 minutes. COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses cause infection through the mucous membranes on the face. By denying access to the nose, eyes and mouth, coronavirus and other respiratory infections can be prevented. Washable, reusable face masks are a simple way for people to protect themselves from their most direct threat: their own hands.
The op-ed notes that medical masks, including surgical and N95 masks, which are in desperately short supply, should be strictly reserved for health professionals at greatest risk for infection.

Widespread adoption of non-medical masks requires major behavior change and the elimination of stigma against wearing masks, but these challenges can and must be overcome. Masks are an important and badly under-utilized public health tool to protect the public against COVID-19.
Photo Credit: The Boston Globe