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  1. Four studies demonstrate that the public’s understanding of government budgetary expenditures is hampered by difficulty in representing large numerical magnitudes. Despite orders of magnitude difference between millions and billions, study participants struggle with the budgetary magnitudes of government programs. When numerical values are rescaled as smaller magnitudes (in the thousands or lower), lay understanding improves, as indicated by greater sensitivity to numerical ratios and more accurate rank ordering of expenses. A robust benefit of numerical rescaling is demonstrated across a variety of experimental designs, including policy relevant choices and incentive-compatible accuracy measures. This improved sensitivity ultimately impacts funding choices and public perception of respective budgets, indicating the importance of numerical cognition for good citizenship.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 12, 2023
  2. Read, Andrew Fraser (Ed.)
    Two of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines currently approved in the United States require 2 doses, administered 3 to 4 weeks apart. Constraints in vaccine supply and distribution capacity, together with a deadly wave of COVID-19 from November 2020 to January 2021 and the emergence of highly contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants, sparked a policy debate on whether to vaccinate more individuals with the first dose of available vaccines and delay the second dose or to continue with the recommended 2-dose series as tested in clinical trials. We developed an agent-based model of COVID-19 transmission to compare the impact of these 2 vaccination strategies, while varying the temporal waning of vaccine efficacy following the first dose and the level of preexisting immunity in the population. Our results show that for Moderna vaccines, a delay of at least 9 weeks could maximize vaccination program effectiveness and avert at least an additional 17.3 (95% credible interval [CrI]: 7.8–29.7) infections, 0.69 (95% CrI: 0.52–0.97) hospitalizations, and 0.34 (95% CrI: 0.25–0.44) deaths per 10,000 population compared to the recommended 4-week interval between the 2 doses. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines also averted an additional 0.60 (95% CrI: 0.37–0.89) hospitalizations and 0.32 (95%more »CrI: 0.23–0.45) deaths per 10,000 population in a 9-week delayed second dose (DSD) strategy compared to the 3-week recommended schedule between doses. However, there was no clear advantage of delaying the second dose with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in reducing infections, unless the efficacy of the first dose did not wane over time. Our findings underscore the importance of quantifying the characteristics and durability of vaccine-induced protection after the first dose in order to determine the optimal time interval between the 2 doses.« less
  3. Abstract Objective: Current COVID-19 guidelines recommend symptom-based screening and regular nasopharyngeal (NP) testing for healthcare personnel in high-risk settings. We sought to estimate case detection percentages with various routine NP and saliva testing frequencies. Design: Simulation modeling study. Methods: We constructed a sensitivity function based on the average infectiousness profile of symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases to determine the probability of being identified at the time of testing. This function was fitted to reported data on the percent positivity of symptomatic COVID-19 patients using NP testing. We then simulated a routine testing program with different NP and saliva testing frequencies to determine case detection percentages during the infectious period, as well as the presymptomatic stage. Results: Routine biweekly NP testing, once every 2 weeks, identified an average of 90.7% (SD, 0.18) of cases during the infectious period and 19.7% (SD, 0.98) during the presymptomatic stage. With a weekly NP testing frequency, the corresponding case detection percentages were 95.9% (SD, 0.18) and 32.9% (SD, 1.23), respectively. A 5-day saliva testing schedule had a similar case detection percentage as weekly NP testing during the infectious period, but identified ~10% more cases (mean, 42.5%; SD, 1.10) during the presymptomatic stage. Conclusion: Ourmore »findings highlight the utility of routine noninvasive saliva testing for frontline healthcare workers to protect vulnerable patient populations. A 5-day saliva testing schedule should be considered to help identify silent infections and prevent outbreaks in nursing homes and healthcare facilities.« less
  4. Abstract Background Global vaccine development efforts have been accelerated in response to the devastating coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We evaluated the impact of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccination campaign on reducing incidence, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States. Methods We developed an agent-based model of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission and parameterized it with US demographics and age-specific COVID-19 outcomes. Healthcare workers and high-risk individuals were prioritized for vaccination, whereas children under 18 years of age were not vaccinated. We considered a vaccine efficacy of 95% against disease following 2 doses administered 21 days apart achieving 40% vaccine coverage of the overall population within 284 days. We varied vaccine efficacy against infection and specified 10% preexisting population immunity for the base-case scenario. The model was calibrated to an effective reproduction number of 1.2, accounting for current nonpharmaceutical interventions in the United States. Results Vaccination reduced the overall attack rate to 4.6% (95% credible interval [CrI]: 4.3%–5.0%) from 9.0% (95% CrI: 8.4%–9.4%) without vaccination, over 300 days. The highest relative reduction (54%–62%) was observed among individuals aged 65 and older. Vaccination markedly reduced adverse outcomes, with non-intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalizations, ICU hospitalizations, and deaths decreasing bymore »63.5% (95% CrI: 60.3%–66.7%), 65.6% (95% CrI: 62.2%–68.6%), and 69.3% (95% CrI: 65.5%–73.1%), respectively, across the same period. Conclusions Our results indicate that vaccination can have a substantial impact on mitigating COVID-19 outbreaks, even with limited protection against infection. However, continued compliance with nonpharmaceutical interventions is essential to achieve this impact.« less
  5. Since the emergence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), unprecedented movement restrictions and social distancing measures have been implemented worldwide. The socioeconomic repercussions have fueled calls to lift these measures. In the absence of population-wide restrictions, isolation of infected individuals is key to curtailing transmission. However, the effectiveness of symptom-based isolation in preventing a resurgence depends on the extent of presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission. We evaluate the contribution of presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission based on recent individual-level data regarding infectiousness prior to symptom onset and the asymptomatic proportion among all infections. We found that the majority of incidences may be attributable to silent transmission from a combination of the presymptomatic stage and asymptomatic infections. Consequently, even if all symptomatic cases are isolated, a vast outbreak may nonetheless unfold. We further quantified the effect of isolating silent infections in addition to symptomatic cases, finding that over one-third of silent infections must be isolated to suppress a future outbreak below 1% of the population. Our results indicate that symptom-based isolation must be supplemented by rapid contact tracing and testing that identifies asymptomatic and presymptomatic cases, in order to safely lift current restrictions and minimize the risk of resurgence.