Speaker: Tara Fusillo
Company/School: John F Kennedy High School
Brief Bio: Tara Fusillo is currently a senior at John F. Kennedy High School and will be attending Northeastern University in the fall. In addition to being one of the 59 million Americans who contracted the H1N1 swine flu in 2009, she is a resident of the hard-hit New York community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experiencing two pandemics first hand, Tara felt passionately about helping those most vulnerable during such pandemics. Under the mentorship of Dr. Fathima Wakeel, Tara built predictive models and shared them with state level departments of health to help them allocate testing, treatment and communication resources to the most vulnerable communities. She also shared her work with companies such as Johnson & Johnson to help inform their vaccine trial and distribution decisions. For her research, Tara was interviewed by CBS News when she was named one of the nation’s 300 Regeneron National Science Talent Search Scholars ( https://newyork.cbslocal.com/video/5183442-40-long-island-students-selected-for-prestigious-regeneron-science- talent-search/ ) and she is published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research ( https://xmed.jmir.org/2020/1/e22470 )
Topic: Predicting Health Disparities in Regions at Risk of Severe Illness to Inform Healthcare Resource Allocations During Pandemics: Observational Study
Abstract: In any pandemic, such as Ebola, H1N1, and COVID-19, allocation of scarce public health resources is a critically important decision for governmental agencies to make in order to save lives. Exponential growth often stresses hospitals, testing laboratories, and medical supply chains to their limits. I have taken a highly data-driven approach using the abundantly available public data on COVID-19 to develop a repeatable statistical modeling process to quickly identify the counties in the most densely populated states where these public health resources allocation decisions are most critical. In NY, NJ, MA, LA and MI, I achieved P values well below 0.05 and consistently identified those counties with mortality rates greater than 50 per 100,000 of population as of April 2020 (i.e. in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic). This modeling approach would, of course, need to be coupled with a full “germ games” preparedness plan as Bill Gates described in his famous 2015 TED talk. He discussed various ways to pair much needed medical resources with areas in need, including the use of the military and medical personnel on reserve.