Nancy Nielsen

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As the debate continues over reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, one example out of Georgia is providing a lesson in how NOT to get back to school safely. "It was just amazing," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen of the images of the crowded hallways of North Paulding High School. "Nobody was socially-distanced. Nobody was wearing masks," said Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. "We're going to get in trouble if we have that sort of thing happen." During an interview with WBFO, Nielsen shared some findings on the threats schools face and encouraged parents to "influence" school reopening plans.


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There are currently over 20 clinical trials underway searching for a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has been following the progress of these efforts. She's been recently intrigued by the "Oxford vaccine," which is being studied in the United Kingdom.  "This has been peer-reviewed,"  said Nielsen, who explained "it uses a genetically-modified adenovirus" to produce neutralizing antibodies. The British effort is funded in part by money from the U.S. federal government "with the promises that we will be able to get vaccine doses if they are effective. "


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News of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus emerged earlier this week. "It's quite promising," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen of the development. In discussing a peer-reviewed study in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nielsen, the Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said the potential vaccine will soon be tested on thousands of people.

Kevin P. Coughlin / (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

A New York state report released this week found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial executive order, which placed COVID-19 hospital patients into nursing homes, was not to blame for the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths. But, as WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki found, many, including Republican lawmakers, watchdog groups and medical professionals, still have questions about what impact the order had.

 

 


New York state has been criticized for previously mandating that nursing homes take in COVID-19 patients from hospitals. But on Monday the state Department of Health issued a report saying the policy was not the major driver of nursing home deaths, and that it was instead nursing home workers unknowingly bringing the virus into facilities. WBFO’s Older Adults Reporter Tom Dinki spoke with Dr. Nancy Nielsen from the University at Buffalo to discuss the report and what it does — and does not — confirm about the state’s more than 6,000 nursing home deaths.

 


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"It's in everybody's best interest for kids to be able to go school, somehow," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Nielsen cited a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that indicates children have fallen behind academically since the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close. With the coronavirus spreading in some areas, returning to the classroom will be complicated.
 


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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health experts have been pleading with the public to wear masks when they come in contact with others. A new study is now backing that advice.


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As Western New York reopens its economy from the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some areas of the country are reporting spikes in the disease. "New York has done so well. We're one of 24 states where the numbers are really massively trending down," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen during her weekly appearance on WBFO.  "What we can't do is get complacent and let it go back up like it has in 19 states."


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As the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 continues to decline, more of public life will reopen. While it's a positive development, Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, offers the stern reminder that "this is not a virus to be trifled with." Nielsen answers questions related to COVID-19 every Thursday morning on WBFO.

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Earlier this week, Chautauqua County health officials reported less than three percent of residents who have been tested are showing a presence of antibodies.  "Low level of the antibodies means not many people have had this disease and, therefore, they don't have potential immunity," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, the former president of the American Medical Association who has been discussing COVID-19 issues every Thursday with WBFO. "So, that means the majority of the population is still susceptible."


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New York officials report over 100 children have become sick with an illness that could be connected with COVID infections. "Everybody who is the parent of a kid under 20 ought to be alert to the symptoms," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The subject was one of many Dr. Nielsen addressed during her weekly conversation with WBFO.

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Labs throughout the world  are searching for an answer to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some seem to making progress, so says Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean of Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Of the 100 vaccines in development, she says eight are in trials with human patients.


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Appearances matter. That was the thought of Dr. Nancy Nielsen as she was watching the news earlier this week when Vice President Mike Pence visited the Mayo Clinic. Officials were wearing masks in accordance to the facility's guidelines. The Vice President was not."It looked like it was obsequious deference to a non-science attitude at a time when infection controls are crucial," Nielsen said during her weekly appearance on WBFO.


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Despite increasing calls to lift the New York PAUSE restrictions, most public officials throughout the state are refraining from predicting when most activities will resume. The effort to move beyond the standstill of the COVID-19 pandemic was boosted in recent days, so says Dr. Nancy Nielsen. In her weekly appearance with WBFO, she sees help coming from an increase in coronavirus testing and a funded contact tracing program.

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They are called convalescent plasma transfusions and they may be able to help a patient suffering from COVID-19.  "This is an old concept, and one that has been used for a hundred years in desperate situations," said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She discussed the transfusions and other potential treatments, including some experimental trials being conducted locally, during her weekly appearance on WBFO.


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While the death toll related to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to climb, government officials are using computer models to get a better understanding of how the coronavirus will likely expand. 


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For those considering the drug chloroquine as a potential treatment for a COVID-19 infection, Dr. Nancy Nielsen offers emphatic advice: "I can't stress enough, please don't try to play doctor on this one." In a weekly segment with WBFO, Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, warned of the side effects of the drug. She also assailed some healthcare professionals regarding their approach to chloroquine. "Doctors and dentists who are hoarding this medicine for themselves and their families are behaving unconscionably."


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When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 40,000 healthcare professionals had volunteered to help in the state's battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Nancy Nielsen was not surprised. "Doctors and nurses run to where trouble is. We always have done that." That's personal experience. Though she no longer has a private practice, Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has volunteered for the effort.


Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

Buffalo MATTERS, a University at Buffalo-developed opioid treatment program, is set to expand across New York State. The program has been credited with helping reduce opioid overdose deaths in Erie County by 40 percent over the past two years.

Avery Schneider / WBFO News

Members of the Catholic laity in Buffalo are stepping forward to help institute change and re-establish trust in their church.

“For those of us who have been heavily involved in the Catholic Church here in the diocese…it has been a very discouraging time and, in the past few days, has seemed, perhaps, especially hopeless,” said Canisius College President John Hurley.

Photo courtesy of UB

The debate over the Affordable Care Act intensified following Thursday's Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the legality of the controversial law. UB health policy expert Nancy Nielsen says if the law had been overturned, "premiums would have gone up."