Each week, we publish layman’s abstracts of new articles from our prestigious portfolio of journals in statistics. The aim is to highlight the latest research to a broader audience in an accessible format.
The article featured today is a Featured Article from Statistics in Medicine, with the full article now available to read here.
AIDS and COVID: A tale of two pandemics and the role of statisticians. Statistics in Medicine. 2021; 40: 2499– 2510. https://doi.org/10.1002/sim.8936
The world has experienced three global pandemics over the last half century: HIV/AIDS, an infection spread through sharing of bodily fluids; H1N1, a virulent influenza; and COVID-19, a disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 are still with us and have wrought extensive havoc worldwide. Over 100 million COVID-19 cases have already been confirmed worldwide, leading to almost 2.5 million deaths as of mid-February 2021. There are many differences between these two infections and their global impacts, but one thing they have in common is the mobilization of scientific resources to both understand the infection and develop ways to combat it.
As was the case with HIV, statisticians, epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists have been working together to understand how (and how readily) the infection is transmitted, who among those infected become ill, the natural history of infection and consequent disease, which factors are more likely to lead to severe illness and death, and what study designs are optimal to evaluate drugs and vaccines. However, unlike the case of HIV, for which drugs have been found to control the infection but no vaccines have yet emerged, safe and effective vaccines have been developed rapidly for COVID-19 while therapeutic advances have been more limited. In this paper we provide an overview of the ongoing efforts to understand and manage this disease and ultimately bring an end to the pandemic.