Please note: This page is a compilation of faculty media mentions. For up-to-date information on Georgia Tech's response to coronavirus (COVID-19) please see http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.
The Weitz Group at Georgia Tech, led by Joshua Weitz, is primarily interested in understanding how viruses transform human health and the fate of our planet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has created various models and figures to explain the virus' spread and epidemiology. Weitz, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences, has worked closely with local Atlanta and global media to explain his findings and discuss the challenges of containing the virus.
Joshua Weitz says the U.S. doesn’t just need a lot more testing for those who may be currently infected with COVID-19. It also needs widespread serological antibody tests to determine those who have recovered from the disease — and may have some immunity — to begin restarting the economy.
Weitz, who also serves as director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program, discusses shield immunity and more in his “Nonlinear Science Talk,” held on April 15, as well as in a forthcoming research paper in the journal Nature.
Weitz’s talk, titled “Dynamics of CoVID-19: Near- and Long-Term Challenges”, was hosted by the School of Physics and the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech.
“The scale and type of testing matters,” Weitz says. “PCR [polymerase chain reaction] testing provides a snapshot: Are you shedding virus now? Serological testing, when accurate, provides a history: Have you been infected recently or in the past?”
Weitz explains that serological testing not only reduces transmission, but that it helps enable safe economic recovery, by lessening social distancing and isolation for those who have immunity and antibodies that help keep them from contracting or carrying coronavirus again.
Weitz also emphasizes that a forecasting model’s purpose is “to explain the need, scope, and potential outcome of interventions.” Lower cases and deaths than predicted “should be a sign that people were taking it seriously, not that the models were wrong. That’s not what they were for.”
Weitz is the lead author in the forthcoming Nature research paper, “Intervention Serology and Interaction Substitution: Modeling the Role of ‘Shield Immunity’ in Reducing COVID-19 Epidemic Spread.”
The paper’s co-authors include Georgia Tech College of Sciences researchers and collaborators Stephen J. Beckett, Ashley R. Coenen, David Demory, Marian Dominguez-Mirazo, Chung-Lin Yeung, Guanlin Li, Andreea Magalie, Rogelio Rodriguez-Gonzalez, and Conan Zhao.
A preprint of the research is the subject of a video from Jennifer Leavey, principal academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences. Leavey explains the shield immunity concepts in Episode 7 of her “Stay at Home Journal Club” video series.
AJC: Georgia Tech expert: Brian Kemp’s plan to reopen economy could raise COVID-19 risksMaureen Downey, April 21, 2020
In an opinion piece, Weitz discusses the possible dangers of re-opening Georgia's economy. Weitz voices concerns that the science of COVID-19 does not support Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to allow some businesses to reopen starting Friday. Instead, Weitz suggests that Georgia waits "until the science, evidence, and infrastructure suggests we are ready to open up the economy – safely."
WABE: Models Are Wrong, Some Are UsefulWABE Staff, April 22, 2020
Weitz chats with WABE Atlanta about the usefulness of models in tracking and predicting the spread of COVID-19. He explains that models can’t give us certainty about what will happen with the coronavirus pandemic, but they can still help tailor interventions to keep people safe. Weitz also discusses Governor Brian Kemp's reopening of the Georgia economy.
GPB: Political Rewind: Confusion Over Next Steps In CrisisBill Nigut, April 23, 2020
Weitz joins a panel with Kevin Riley, an editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Dr. Mark Rosenburg, retired CEO of the Task Force for Global Health. They discuss Governor Brian Kemp's decision to re-open Georgia's economy and the consequences of Georgians going out and attempting to resume life as normal.
Atlanta Magazine: Re-opening Georgia for business is a life or death decision - and the data doesn't helpKaren Landman, April 23, 2020
Weitz discusses his concerns with the decision to re-open Georgia's economy. He suggests that officials wait until conditions allow a sustained downward curve to open the economy. Furthermore, he explains that even if Georgia has past the peak of the daily case counts and fatalities from the virus, there is the possibility that cases will peak again. To expidite the time to re-opening the economy, Weitz suggests increasing the availability of testing for the virus.
WABE: While Georgia Begins To Open Again, Health Experts Urge CautionMolly Samuel, April 24, 2020
Beginning Friday, April 25, certain businesses in Georgia are allowed to re-open under Governor Brian Kemp's direction. Weitz believes that the governor is opening certain businesses too quickly, and advises the governor to wait until the right safeguards and evidence are available.
GPB: What You Need To Know: Could Georgia See A Second Peak?Sam Bermas-Dawes, April 24, 2020
Weitz talks with Political Rewind's Sam Bermas-Dawes about whether Georgia is moving to fast to reopen the economy, and if there is a chance of cases peaking again. Weitz is concerned "about whether or not both the signals from cases and fatalities as well as the infrastructure to make sure that trends in the right direction continue to trend in that way are there in place at the moment."
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