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Covid-19

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Bloomberg News

Biobot Analytics, a startup founded by Mariana Matus ‘18 and Newsha Ghaeli ‘17, has raised $20 million in funding for its work with wastewater epidemiology, reports Carey Goldberg and Janet Wu for Bloomberg News. “This past year, wastewater epidemiology changed from being an obscure niche area of science to becoming a central pillar of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Matus. “And now, in the later stages of the pandemic, it’s becoming a central pillar of preparing for the next pandemic.” 

NPR

Noubar Afeyan ’87, a member of the MIT Corporation, speaks to Guy Raz of NPR’s How I Built This podcast about his journey toward co-founding Moderna and becoming a part of history through the rapid creation and production of vaccines for the Covid-19 pandemic. “The reality is when you have a pandemic and you’re a public company and you have material data, our sense was that we at a high level had to put that [information] out there,” says Afeyan. “One of these things we learned, because none of us had been in this situation before, is that we are going to get criticized no matter what we did. So, we just had to do what we thought was right.”

CBS News

Prof. Yossi Sheffi speaks with David Pogue of CBS Sunday Morning about what’s causing the current supply chain breakdowns. "The underlying cause of all of this is actually a huge increase in demand,” says Sheffi. “People did not spend during the pandemic. And then, all the government help came; trillions of dollars went to households. So, they order stuff. They order more and more stuff. And the whole global markets were not ready for this."

Boston Globe

President L. Rafael Reif and Linda Henry, CEO of Boston Globe Media Partners, took part in a wide-ranging fireside chat during the inaugural Globe Summit, touching upon everything from the urgent need to address the climate crisis to MIT’s response to Covid-19, the Institute’s approach to AI education and the greater Boston innovation ecosystem. “This is such an important global issue,” says Reif of climate change. “It’s the most serious challenge we have in our times.”
 

Boston.com

A new study by MIT researchers finds that more people started walking during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, but how much they walked was correlated to their income levels, reports Arianna MacNeill for Boston.com. The researchers found “people in higher-income areas walked more during the pandemic, while people in lower-income areas – including neighborhoods with more BIPOC and those suffering from long-term illnesses like diabetes and obesity – walked less,” writes MacNeill.

Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Visiting Prof. Susan J. Blumenthal and research scientist David Kong underscore the need to reimagine America’s public health infrastructure. “A new multidisciplinary academic field of public health technology should be established to integrate diverse expertise in public health, technology, engineering, data analytics, and design to help build the products, programs, and systems necessary to modernize the nation’s public health infrastructure and ready it for 21st-century challenges and opportunities,” they write.

Mashable

Prof. Justin Reich speaks with Mashable reporter Chris Taylor about the need to rethink the future of education and how kids learn. “There are going to be more interruptions in schooling in the future,” says Reich. “More fires, more floods, more freezing, more pandemic events, more tropical diseases migrating. The West will continue to have terrible fires. When it’s unsafe to travel, kids should be able to switch to remote learning for a week or two.”

Wired

Nuria Oliver PhD ’00 speaks with Wired reporter Willem Marx about her work developing a data gathering system to help combat Covid-19 in Valencia, Spain. Olivier and her team developed “a powerful predictor that's been road-tested during a time of unprecedented strain, and continues to be used across Valencia," writes Marx. "They have also created a system that can suggest a small number of specific, effective pandemic-related policies or interventions that a government can make.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Castellanos spotlights Prof. Markus Buehler’s work combining virtual reality with sound waves to help detect subtle changes in molecular motions. Castellanos notes that Buehler and his team recently found, “coronaviruses can be more lethal or infectious depending on the vibrations within the spike proteins that are found on the surface of the virus.”

Fortune

In an article for Fortune, Prof. Amy Glasmeier and Alison Omens of JUST Capital underscore the importance of paying workers a living wage. “Those companies that will thrive in both the current and post-pandemic economy will be those that prioritize their workers—not just in their rhetoric but in paying them a living wage,” they write.

New York Times

Writing for The New York Times, Prof. David Autor explores how the current labor shortage provides an opportunity to improve the quality of jobs in the U.S. “The period of labor scarcity, then, is an opportunity to catalyze better working conditions for those who need them most,” writes Autor.

GBH

Prof. David Autor speaks with Kara Miller of GBH’s Innovation Hub about the impact of Covid-19 on the future of work.

Forbes

Postdoc Freddy Nguyen, former co-director of the MIT Hacking Medicine hackathon, speaks with Forbes contributor Michelle Greenwald about how transitioning to virtual hackathons during the Covid-19 pandemic shed light on how to improve hackathons going forward. "One of the benefits of being virtual was that it allowed participants from around the globe that normally couldn’t afford the airfare or time to go to overseas, to take part,” writes Greenwald. “As a result, there were more participants, more diversity of thought, and a wider range of mentors involved, comporting well with MIT’s belief that great ideas can come from anywhere.”

GBH

Prof. Jonathan Gruber speaks with Margery Eagan and Jared Bowen on Boston Public Radio about the ethics of offering vaccine booster shots in the U.S. when many nations are struggling with vaccine scarcity. “This is really a moment where, going forward, the world has to figure out a more effective strategy,” said Gruber. “We need to think about how we’re going to set up institutions to deal with these kinds of tradeoffs in the future.” 

KQED

A new report by Prof. Justin Reich and Jal Mehta of Harvard proposes a new path forward for rethinking K-12 schools after Covid-19, reports Paul Darvasi for KQED. “The report recommends that educators build on the positive aspects of their pandemic learning experience in the years ahead,” notes Darvasi, “and supports increased student independence to cultivate a safe and healthy environment that is more conducive to learning.”