Public Health Week: COVID-19 and Future Diseases

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Fighitng COVID-19 and Future Diseases

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is enlisting experts and resources at MSU to bolster the state’s fight against COVID, foodborne illnesses and more. With three grants totaling more than $5 million, and health care partners will help build up Michigan’s capacity to respond to the current pandemic and future pathogens. Debra Furr-Holden will serve on the Michigan Sequencing Academic Partnership for Public Health Innovation and Response team. 

Increasing Awareness and Uptake of Antibody Testing

African Americans make up 14 percent of Michigan’s population but account for more than 33 percent of the state’s coronavirus cases and 40 percent of its deaths. A team of Michigan State University researchers and their partners, funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Todd Lucas, C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, are leading a study with the goal of communicating effectively about the value of COVID-19 antibody testing and better understanding why COVID-19 causes a disproportionate number of African Americans to suffer severe cases and deaths.

Vaccine Literacy

Closing the racial gap in health outcomes and COVID-19 vaccination rates in Michigan as well as other states is the aim of MSU researchers funded through a $6 million, one-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC grant is for the National Network to Innovate for COVID-19 and Adult Vaccine Equity, or NNICE project, and is led by epidemiologist Debra Furr-Holden. The goal of the grant is to boost COVID-19 and other adult vaccine literacy among the African American community. 

Diminishing COVID-19 Racial Disparities for Tribal Communities

COVID-19 disproportionately affects American Indians and Alaska Natives; in 23 states, the overall incidence of COVID-19 cases among these groups was 3.5 times that of non-Hispanic white Americans. Noel Pingatore, Spartan in Public Health, joined the fight against COVID-19 to decrease transmission and improve patient outcomes for tribal communities in Michigan. Tribal communities were experiencing higher rates of underlying risk factors for COVID-19 and disproportionate health outcomes.