Politics, politics and pandemic: seniors associate their memories with COVID-19


From resolving global vaccine inequalities to researching reasons why people may not move away socially, some seniors have successfully linked their memories to the COVID-19 pandemic and exploring what can be learned of the past year.

Anna Darwish (Computer Science / Statistics): Social Distancing Membership in North Carolina

Anna Darwish, Trinity ’21, explored the relationships between the age, ethnicity, and political affiliation of North Carolinians and the likelihood of them following appropriate social distancing rules.

This investigation began as a smaller class project, but Darwish and his advisor felt that the topic could be studied at a higher level and developed into a final thesis.

“My reason for writing this [paper] it was to better understand Why a given person may not be socially distanced, once I have a general idea who was social distancing, ”Darwish wrote in an email. “I hope readers understand that a given person’s ability and choice to distance themselves socially goes beyond their identity, even politically, because, frankly, my role models have not worked well! ”

Despite these setbacks with his models, Darwish believes that his work is sufficient to answer the overall question posed by his thesis.

“While there is certainly a level of social stigma in favor of social distancing (and rightly so), my results suggest that other factors, such as being a frontline worker, having many children, or being part of the of a group that has a negative history with health care in the United States, can also play into decisions to socially distance itself, ”Darwish wrote.

Syann Cadogan (Sociology / Global Health): An International Comparison of COVID-19 Rates and Policies in Prisons in the United States, China and England

Syann Cadogan, Trinity ’21, chose to compare and contrast pandemic policies in the United States, China and England in his thesis.

“I thought it would be interesting to write on this topic, given that it is so current and still relevant,” Cadogan wrote in an email. “I compared the number of cases and deaths in each country to that of their prisons, as well as the contraction rates both outside and inside prisons. Next, I reviewed the steps taken by prison systems to deal with COVID-19 infections and deaths. “

Her thesis, she says, makes a contribution to the health literature by comparing prison policies that have led to extreme differences in inmate health outcomes in three high GDP countries.

In addition to raising awareness about the gaps in COVID-19 rates in prisons around the world, Cadogan hopes his findings could open the door to updating flawed policies.

“Overall, the COVID-19 crisis has brought new opportunities for innovative responses linked to future action and improvements in institutionalized contexts,” Cadogan wrote.

Aneesha Raj (Biology / Global Health): Global equity challenges in purchasing COVID-19 vaccines

Aneesha Raj, Trinity ’21, experienced her fair share of obstacles while completing her thesis. Logistical issues forced Raj to deviate from his original topic – COVID-19 and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Africa – a month ahead of the due date.

“I had to get [Institutional Review Board] approval, which wasn’t going to come in time, so I had to immediately pivot and think about this new idea, ”Raj said. “My thesis is basically about the disparity between high income countries that can afford to buy vaccines while low income countries are excluded.”

Gavin Yamey, professor of global health practice and one of Raj’s thesis mentors, had previously been a member of a design advisory group for COVAX, a program dedicated to the distribution of vaccines throughout the world. This stroke of luck allowed Raj to immediately jump into his new subject.

“There isn’t a lot of information about countries with overcrowded hospitals that don’t get vaccines, and [Yamey] pointed me in the direction of this conversation, ”Raj explained. “I thought it was really important to be able to contribute to this growing body of work as an undergraduate student, especially with a view to advocating for a more equitable distribution of vaccines and identifying countries that need be prioritized. ”

Chen Chen (Public Policy / Biology): How Testing Serves African Americans in Epidemics, Past and Present: Applying Lessons from Tuberculosis to COVID-19 in the United States

Chen Chen, Trinity ’21, began his investigation by studying several outbreaks of tuberculosis among African Americans over the past century to see how effective different prevention methods were.

“The first period I looked at was the 1930s-1950s when tuberculosis testing became widely available,” Chen said. “I also looked at the 1980-1985 period for HIV and TB co-infections to see what happens when one pandemic combines with another. Next, I watched a case study from Alabama, which showed how a modern-day TB epidemic was not properly contained.

Chen’s next step was to compare these examples with modern COVID-19 vaccine delivery efforts among similar demographics before analyzing trends and other important areas.

She hopes readers of her thesis will come away with an understanding of the shortcomings of the current vaccine distribution system, particularly in terms of distribution among African Americans.

“Rather than lacking the resources, knowledge or evidence to successfully address inequalities in screening in African American communities, the United States lacks the imagination and commitment to directly address these inequalities,” which has led to failures in screening strategies for tuberculosis and COVID-19 ”. Chen said. “Historical case studies show differences in the successes and failures of TB screening campaigns in African American communities that we can incorporate into current and future health measures.”


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