W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).

Michael E. Emch, PhD, is W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). He is a member of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Ecology Lab at UNC and he leads the Spatial Health Research Group. He has published more than 160 papers and two books mostly on infectious diseases including cholera, malaria, respiratory infections, tuberculosis, and COVID-19. He has received more than 20 million dollars in research grants to study diverse topics such as the role of population-environment drivers in pathogen evolution, how social connectivity contributes to disease incidence, and using environmental indicators to predict infectious disease outbreaks. He has served on panels for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Academy of Sciences and he has given many speeches on infectious diseases at institutions in more than 20 countries including the United States Senate.

African American man in antiviral mask gesturing thumb up during coronavirus vaccination, approving of covid-19 immunization. Young doctor giving vaccine injection to male patient

COVID-19 Vaccination: When Will the U.S. Reach Herd Immunity?

Three COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have all received emergency use authorization in the United States and a mass vaccination program is now underway. The vaccines are all very safe and effective, and as of the beginning of April 2021 more than 108 million people have received at least one...
A female medical student attending a school lecture raises her hand to ask a question. The multi-ethnic group of adult students is wearing medical scrubs and protective face masks to prevent viral infection during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Risk of Coronavirus Transmission in Classrooms, Clinical Settings, and the Community

Many colleges are reopening for in–person learning after major shutdowns during the spring and fall of 2020 to mitigate transmission of the novel coronavirus. Reopening is especially important for nursing education because there is already a substantial nurse shortage both in the United States and globally (Snavely 2016). An important question is whether nurses and...
Three young active friends jogging together with protective face masks on.

A Clear Path Forward Must Exist for Those Who Can Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine and Those Who Cannot

In December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two brands of the COVID-19 vaccine, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, for emergency use authorization. A third vaccine, made by Johnson and Johnson, received the same authorization in February 2021. With this authorization, and the ensuing nationwide vaccine rollout, millions of individuals across the nation...
Corona virus and research

Benefits and Challenges of COVID-19 Vaccination

There has been very good news reported recently from ongoing Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trials. Two so–called mRNA vaccines COVID-19 vaccines have shown very high efficacies including one produced by Pfizer and another by Moderna. Pfizer reported an efficacy of 94.5% and Moderna 95%. Efficacy is measured by calculating the risk of a disease among...
Herd Immunity and Social Distancing

The Great Barrington Declaration – Is Herd Immunity really the answer to the pandemic?

Throughout much of the world, COVID-19 public health measures are being used to keep people separated to control community spread until vaccines and therapeutics become available. Should we end these practices now without a vaccine in hand, and push toward herd immunity? One such argument is being made via the Great Barrington Declaration, a short...
Scientist doctor with mask and mobile technology virus infect detected 3D futuristic virtual reality hologram, COVID Coronavirus intelligence digital medical health care technology.

Why there is Urgency to Collect and Use COVID-19 Data Rapidly

Without an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, we must isolate cases and quarantine people who have been in contact with cases quickly before they interact with other people. When someone is infected with the SARS CoV-2 virus they can spread it to susceptible people as soon as two days later. But how do we...
Data Driven Decision Making

Data-Driven Decision-Making to Reopen College Campuses

College campuses are reopening throughout the United States with safeguards in place meant to limit transmission of SARS CoV-2, known as the novel coronavirus. It is important to minimize transmission because there are no highly effective drugs to treat COVID-19 and there is not yet an approved vaccine to prevent it. Safeguards include non-pharmaceutical interventions...