Surgo Ventures
We use all the tools available from behavioral science, data science, and artificial intelligence to unlock solutions that will save and improve people’s lives.
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A troubling number of healthcare workers — 15 percent — who have been offered an approved COVID-19 vaccine refuse to take it, according to the first comprehensive vaccine hesitancy survey of healthcare workers in the United States, which we released today.

The 2,504 respondents to our survey, which was administered December 17–30, 2020, consisted of three groups: “Healthcare Professionals” (i.e., physicians, nurses, dentists); “Allied Health Professionals” (i.e., health technicians, EMS personnel, physician therapists, home health workers); and “Health Management and Support Personnel” (i.e., administrative staff, operations staff).

According to “U.S. Healthcare Workers: COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake and Attitudes”, 15% of healthcare workers offered the vaccine refuse to take it. The most common reason cited for their reluctance was a lack of evidence of the vaccines’ effectiveness and safety (31% cited this as the primary reason); personal safety concerns (24%); and worrying that the vaccine approval process has been rushed


Public testing data is hard to come by for most countries

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“COVID-19 testing” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While many more developed continents are buckling under the strain of COVID-19, African countries have been faring relatively well. To date, despite having 17% of the world’s population, Africa has reported less than 6% of the global COVID-19 cases and about 3% of the total COVID-19 deaths worldwide. Experts believe this is due, in part, to its younger population, warmer temperatures and cross-over immunity from other diseases. In addition, policymakers acted early — closing borders and enforcing stringent policies such as lockdowns and strict social-distancing measures.

However, it would be premature to say that Africa has escaped the worst of this global pandemic.


Spinoff of Surgo Foundation led by CEO Sema Sgaier and Board of Directors Mala Gaonkar, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Helman IV, and Peter Piot

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The co-founders of Surgo Foundation, Mala Gaonkar and Sema Sgaier, announced today that they have spun off an independent nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization called Surgo Ventures.

With headquarters in Washington, DC and a hub in the UK, Surgo Ventures is dedicated to solving health and social problems with precision. Surgo Ventures will take all of the insights and tools developed by Surgo Foundation over the past five years, and scale them for even greater impact.

Surgo Ventures will be led by Co-Founder and CEO Sema Sgaier, and governed by a Board of Directors including Co-Founder and Chair Mala Gaonkar, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Helman IV, and Peter Piot. …


Why do people not seek care when they have symptoms suggestive of TB?

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Tuberculosis (TB) killed 1.4 million people in 2019. India accounts for more than a quarter of the 10 million people who get sick with TB around the world each year. While there have been improvements in the quality of and access to TB treatment, significant gaps remain in care seeking, with 42 percent of Indians with TB not getting diagnosed on time.

Getting people to go to the doctor as soon as they have symptoms is a big part of the problem we need to solve. …


Wyoming, Nevada among winners; DC, Massachusetts shortchanged

Last night, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted for vaccination in the “1A” phase of the COVID-19 vaccine program to be offered to both health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. In light of the influential panel’s decision, Surgo Foundation urged governors to utilize available data to ensure that their states’ limited vaccine supplies will go as far as they can toward protecting critical healthcare workers.

“We’re concerned by Operation Warp Speed’s recommendation to deliver the first 6.4 million vaccine doses to states not based on prioritized risk groups, but on a state’s adult population,” said Dr. …


Pandemic looms large for World Mental Health Day

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On the eve of World Mental Health Day 2020, a holiday the World Health Organization says is intended to raise awareness of “what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide,” the COVID-19 pandemic dominates the stage. And here in the United States, where we’re now six months into the pandemic, the effects of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, financial stress, and constant uncertainty about the future are taking a toll.

We wanted to more fully understand this growing crisis, so we collaborated with Mental Health America and leveraged our own COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) to determine which United States counties are most vulnerable to the negative consequences of COVID-19 and poor mental health. …


27 communities facing a perfect storm of vulnerability

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College football season got off to a rocky start this year. Different football conferences tightened or loosened health restrictions and policies on allowing fans, and some initially delayed their seasons — all due to COVID-19. And all the while, as the CDC recently reported, weekly COVID cases among college-aged Americans were increasing.

To show how our COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) illustrates vulnerability through at-risk populations in communities — especially those college communities that are about to see an influx of superspreader events like football games and tailgate parties — we conducted an analysis using CCVI data, along with CDC and Unacast mobility data. Our researchers looked at 65 U.S. counties that are home to the schools of the Power 5 college football conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Pacific-12 Conference (PAC-12) Conference, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). …


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Seven ideas from medical, public health, and tech experts

As August ended, Africa had reached about 1.3 million of the 25 million COVID-19 cases worldwide. As noted in a previous post about our Africa COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index, COVID-19 hit less vulnerable communities in Africa first — densely populated urban centers like Cape Town in South Africa, for instance — but now it’s catching up in Africa’s most vulnerable regions. Southern Africa is a key area of concern, especially in light of this week’s announcement by the World Food Program that 45 million people in the region are food insecure due to COVID-19, climate change, and continuing economic turmoil.

Many experts are wondering whether Southern Africa can get ahead of COVID-19, in spite of these current challenges and the prevailing context of lagging economies, low resources, and weak health systems. …


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Calculating COVID-19 racial disparities is complicated. Here’s how to do it right.

Note from Towards Data Science’s editors: While we allow independent authors to publish articles in accordance with our rules and guidelines, we do not endorse each author’s contribution. You should not rely on an author’s works without seeking professional advice. See our Reader Terms for details.

The figures have been stark and shocking: from fairly early in the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been reported that Black people in the United States are dying of COVID-19 at twice the rate of White people. Commentators have been keen to point out the longstanding racial inequities that may lie behind these statistics. Others have tried to disentangle the various factors behind the disparity. …


The biggest challenge in this pandemic will be a behavioral one.

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You would think that Americans would be highly enthusiastic at the prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine. Indeed, research shows that public enthusiasm for a vaccine is generally highest during a pandemic. But surprisingly, public opinion surveys show this is not the case: as many as one in three Americans are currently saying they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is a big problem, because a COVID-19 vaccine is only useful if we can achieve herd immunity — meaning we will need between 55 and 80 percent of the U.S. population to get vaccinated.

As we’ve seen with social distancing and mask wearing, our biggest challenge to overcoming this pandemic has been, and will continue to be, a behavioral one. And right now we have a rare window of opportunity to better understand the “why” behind people’s hesitancy to get the vaccine, so we can design interventions to help change their minds. …

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