Posts by: Randy Ellis

Professor in the Department of Economics, Boston University

Randomized control trial using masks.

Economists and perhaps others will benefit from seeing the results of this large-scale randomized controlled trial on wearing masks, in Bangledesh, which studied N=342,126 adults with three study arms: cluster randomized Villages and households with no intervention, with free cloth masks, and with free surgical masks. Participants also received information and local  reminders.   Here […]

Three sources on COVID-19

This BUHealth blog contains clips on practical advice about COVID-19 from a Harvard School of Public Health email, links to the The Vaccine Confidence Project, and an except from the CDC advisory on pregnancy and COVID-19 From: Harvard Executive Director Mark Dorgan <oer_info@hsph.harvard.edu> While globally new cases are trending downward, the virus continues to spread. […]

Hourly weather forecasts for US

I rely upon my cell phone for hourly forecasts of rain and weather, but have not known how to get hourly forecasts more than 24 hours into the future. Yesterday a friend sent me the following National Weather Service link that forecasts hourly weather up to six days ahead.  Of course, it loses precision, but […]

The unsurprising tragedies of the Afghanistan war

As we ponder the tragedies of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is important to also remember the costs of our continuing. An excerpt from the Boston Globe is pasted in below. The bottom line is that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will have cost the US at least $4 trillion dollars (excluding interest […]

BUHealth: COVID-19 risks when fully vaccinated and singing outdoors

This blog started as a response to a colleague who was calculating using local community vaccination and positive infection rates, using a 90% effectiveness rate for vaccines, and asking about the risks of singing without a mask outside. He calculated the risk of infection to singers as perhaps 0.15% to 0.31%. Is that reasonable? Risk […]

BUHealth: Wonderful news about vaccines and alternative strains

This JAMA research letter came out on March 19, 2021, but it is trending #1 on JAMA, and seems worth highlighting since it gives such hopeful news. The study compared measures capturing rates of antibodies in three sets of patients: 20 people actively infected with COVID-19, 20 people who had recovered from COVID-19 for 32-94 […]

Re: BUHealth: I am vaccinated!

Two serious ones, now one on humor. This Frozen musical take-off on getting a vaccine is well done if you like over-the- top musical singers. You may not enjoy this one if you are not likely to get a vaccine soon. 9/10   https://youtu.be/U74wUO54Sdg  5:49 minutes   This medley by the same singer from last […]

BUHealth: Consider donating blood

If you are curious about whether you have already had COVID-19 and would like to find out whether you already have antibodies, it is worth knowing that if you give blood, then the American Red Cross automatically tests donor blood and will tell you if you have COVID-19 antibodies. 20% of American donating blood test […]

BUHealth: Vaccine effectiveness strong against variants and allergic reactions are trivial.

These two accessible, free JAMA Network articles have excellent answers to some common questions. Below are a few selected quotes with key parts in RED. My notes are in italics, red italics if important. 2 minutes if you just read the red. Figuring Out Whether COVID-19 Vaccines Protect Against Variants “How well do the COVID-19 […]

BUHealth humor: final entries in the masked dog photo caption contest

Final entries in the masked dog photo caption contest “Waiting for the dog vaccine rollout.” “Wearing a mask is so easy even my dog can do it!” “Sadie says: Even I wear a mask when not eating!” “I hate it when I can’t lick and my hair gets all frizzy!” “How do you like my […]

BUHealth: Being less racist makes some of us less comfortable

The New York Times had a very interesting article on March 5 which documented differences in rates of vaccination by race across the 50 US states. Whereas some states (Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin and Connecticut (?!?) have vaccination rates for blacks that are less than half of the state average, in Massachusetts the rate for blacks […]

BUHealth: I am vaccinated!

A wise friend who read my previous BUHealth post comparing different vaccines warned me that it could be interpreted as saying “Wait to get a vaccine until you get the one you like the most.” I do not recommend that. I care too much about my friends. Instead, you should get a vaccine the first […]

BUHealth: latest research in JAMA on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

One JAMA Network article this week and an accompanying editorial about COVID-19 are the first I have seen to carefully present the research about recent SARS-CoV-2 strains/variants, different types of vaccines, effects of one versus two doses, advice for people who were previously infected by SARS-CoV-2, what we know so far about their effectiveness against […]

Yes, even rich white people in the US get bad health care

Despite the abundant evidence2 showing that health care outcomes in the US are much worse than in every other OECD country, I still hear arguments that this is because uninsured, Medicaid, minorities, or low-income people in the US bring down our health outcomes. This myth is repeated3–5, and believed by a majority of Americans. 6 […]

BUHealth: UK/South African COVID strains are at BU; BU testing looks great; BU plans in-person commencement!

I greatly enjoyed reading about how BU is using its extensive research laboratory resources to test for the presence of the UK and South African variants at BU. This report includes the 70 cases of COVID-19 detected in members of the BU faculty, staff and students during the week of Feb 17-23. Below are a […]

JAMA Network articles on P4P, Policy Equipoise and Nocebo effects

In these days when pay-for-performance and value-based payment reform have become the centerpiece of US Medicare payment reform, this short and accessible article in JAMA Health Forum (5 minutes) argues that we implement and evaluate reforms using “policy equipoise” rather than the usual foundational belief – that too many economists adhere to – that these […]

A Momentous Day for Democracy!

Today is a momentous day for the US and for democracy, so I thought I would comment on it. I did not expect to be so happy today. The Associated Press has not yet called the second of the two Georgia senate elections but I trust the NY Times report (see article below) that Georgia […]

BU interviews, blogs, and news releases.

This blog documents various public interviews and news reports and is mostly a place to keep track of them for my BU Annual Report Conversations with Economists.  Zoom discussion by Randall P Ellis and Laurence Kotlikoff on  COVID-19 and the US economy with follow up questions from attendees. Passcode: $iH^XM50   October 27, 2020 (time 1:29:12) […]

Randy’s favorite articles on COVID-19

July 20. 2020 Important update on superspreading events. This article from the Washington Post provides a useful update about how superspreading events account for the vast majority of infection and are driving the pandemic. 3-5 minute read. Washington Post Ariana Eunjung Cha July 18, 2020 at 1:58 p.m. EDT ‘Superspreading’ events, triggered by people who […]

Boston Bird Bingo

I took time to make the following game board because I greatly love bird-watching and also love games. I invite you to view it. School teachers or parents might enjoy it as well. Boston Bird Bingo I admit that our bird-watching is much better through having a bird-feeder in the back yard, which accounts for […]