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Duke Faculty Take Lead on Policy Papers Recommendations on COVID Response

Papers cover testing, information flow and care for pregnant women

As part of the university’s effort to respond to COVID-19, Duke faculty have been part of three reports in the past week offering recommendations to policymakers and health care providers on different aspects of the pandemic.

Here are highlights:


Bolstering COVID Testing and Care

Two former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioners want the agency to form a pair of task forces focused on bolstering both testing and care to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In addition, the commissioners urge the White House to accelerate steps on a nationwide COVID-19 surveillance partnership to support these efforts and seek further interventions.

“We need these drugs and testing tools to help patients now. We also need them for the long term,” write former FDA commissioners Drs. Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan in a working paper issued Thursday by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.

“With the isolation and other steps we are taking now, it’s possible that the epidemic spread of coronavirus will wane in the coming weeks and months. But it’s also possible that there will be additional waves of viral spread with the risk of another epidemic in the future.”

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Promoting Accurate Information Online

The current coronavirus outbreak has taught important lessons about the negative impact of closed information regimes on efforts to contain and combat emerging pandemics, the importance of an open internet, and the dangers of mis- and disinformation, according to a policy statement released Thursday by Brian W. Langloss and Sarah Rispin Sedlak, scholars with Duke’s Center on Science & Technology Policy.

Langloss and Sedlak suggested ways to combat government censorship and misinformation, while also using social media effectively to get important pandemic messaging to the public.

“Through digital epidemiology, public health researchers can identify and track outbreaks as they occur,” the authors said. “Social media has also enabled public health experts to connect with each other and the general public to a remarkable degree during this crisis.”

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Caring for Pregnant Women During the Pandemic

Two Duke OB-GYN faculty, Dr. Brenna Hughes and Dr. Sarah Dotters-Katz, took the lead in writing a policy statement for the national Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, offering recommendations for caring for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement covers the most recent evidence on transmission of the virus from mother-to fetus, determining when testing is needed, delivery considerations and whether an infected woman can breastfeed the infant.

The report noted that information is still being collected about maternal care during the pandemic. “This is a rapidly changing landscape, and new information will continue to be updated daily,” the authors said.

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