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Vox

Newsha Ghaeli ’17 - president and co-founder of Biobot, a public health research, data and analytics firms that has developed and promoted wastewater surveillance technology - speaks with Vox reporter Muizz Akhtar about how wastewater surveillance can be used to predict and prepare for future pandemics. “Our vision is that this is a permanent infrastructure layer on our sewer systems, so that it becomes one of the core kinds of pandemic preparedness in this country and disease surveillance globally,” says Ghaeli.

Popular Science

Using machine learning techniques, MIT researchers analyzed social media sentiment around the world during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and found that the “pandemic precipitated a dramatic drop in happiness,” reports Charlotte Hu for Popular Science. “We wanted to do this global study to compare different countries because they were hit by the pandemic at different times,” explains Prof. Siqi Zheng, “and they have different cultures, different political systems, and different healthcare systems.”

Los Angeles Times

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Edward Scolnick and La Jolla Institute for Immunology Prof. Erica Ollmann Saphire share their insights on the future and potential challenges in developing a universal Covid-19 vaccine. “Success will require two principles that the world has not yet sufficiently grasped in fighting this virus: a focus on the long term over the short term, and a sustainable structure and support for collaboration,” write Scolnick and Saphire.

The Boston Globe

Prof. Mariana Arcaya writes for The Boston Globe about how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Build Beck Better bill will help combat the ongoing global climate crisis. “Shifting away from fossil-fuel consumption and combatting injustice are the two keys to solving the climate crisis,” writes Arcaya. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act provides vital funding for some of the measures the United States needs to take.” 

The Boston Globe Magazine

Boston Globe Magazine reporter Courtney Humphries spotlights MIT startup Biobot Analytics, co-founded by Mariana Matus ’18 and Newsha Ghaeli ’17, for using their wastewater and sewage tracking technology to identify Covid -19 in communities across the United States. “Because people shed the virus in their stool before they test positive, Biobot’s data are often a leading indicator of where the infection is heading, arriving ahead of case counts by a few days,” writes Humphries.

Boston Herald

MIT researchers have found a way to use wastewater testing surveillance as a public health tool to identify infectious diseases, reports Marie Szaniszlo for the Boston Herald. “Wastewater testing first started with a discovery by MIT researchers is being used nationwide as an early warning sign,” writes Szaniszlo.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg reporter Chris Anstey spotlights a new study by MIT researchers that finds that during the Covid-19 pandemic people have been taking cues from their neighbors as to whether it is safe to resume social activities like dining in restaurants. “We felt that in [some] uncertain times, such information might be particularly valuable,” said Prof. Siqi Zheng. “If others think it’s safe to go out, then maybe I should feel safe. To be sure, we were also prepared for the opposite reaction, that people would hunker down and try to avoid crowds.”

The Washington Post

In an article for The Washington Post, Visiting Professor Susan Blumenthal and Emily Stark of New America make the case for creating a “government-backed program that would evaluate and label masks for consumers like the Food and Drug Administration does for sunscreens.”

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Pranshu Verma spotlights MIT startup Biobot Analytics, co-founded by Mariana Matus ’18 and Newsha Ghaeli ’17, for their work studying sewage data to better predict the spread of Covid-19 in communities. “For health officials, it [the data] confirms whether Covid spikes in the community are real, and not due to increased testing or other factors,” writes Verma. “Moreover, Covid levels in waste water are a leading indicator for new clinical cases, giving health officials a few days’ notice if they’ll see more sick patients showing symptoms.”

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Kay Lazar spotlights how the Broad Institute “has become the region’s powerhouse for monitoring shifts in the genetic makeup of the coronavirus.”

Reuters

A new study co-authored by Prof. Retsef Levi finds vaccine passports “that exempt vaccinated people from regular Covid-19 testing would allow many infections to be missed,” reports Nancy Lapid for Reuters.

The Washington Post

Writing for The Washington Post, Prof. Kevin Esvelt argues that research aimed at creating pandemic-causing viruses should be considered a matter of international security. “Natural pandemics may be inevitable. Synthetic ones, constructed with full knowledge of society’s vulnerabilities, are not,” writes Esvelt. “Let’s not learn to make pandemics until we can reliably defend against them.”

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.

ABC News

Prof. Lydia Bourouiba speaks with ABC News about how schools can use ventilation and masks to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. “If we're not wearing a mask, that contamination is building up, particularly when we're in a classroom for hours," says Bourouiba. "But there are simple measures when we bring in fresh air from the outside that are very effective."

CBS Boston

A new tabletop device developed by researchers from MIT and other institutions can identify Covid-19 variants in a person’s saliva, reports CBS Boston. “We tried to limit the number of user steps to make sure it was as easy as possible,” explains graduate student Devora Najjar.