New paper out:

We are proud to have published yet another paper from our Social Science Meets Biology | CAS (cas-nor.no) project:

Death on the permafrost: Revisiting the 1918-20 influenza pandemic in Alaska using death certificates | American Journal of Epidemiology | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

The 1918-20 influenza pandemic devastated Alaska’s Indigenous populations. We report on quantitative analyses of pandemic deaths due to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) using information from Alaska death certificates dating between 1915 and 1921 (n=7,147). Goals include a reassessment of pandemic death numbers, analysis of P&I deaths beyond 1919, estimates of excess mortality patterns overall and by age using intercensal population estimates based on Alaska’s demographic history, and comparisons between Alaska Native (AN) and non-AN residents. Results indicate that ANs experienced 83% of all P&I deaths and 87% of all-cause excess deaths during the pandemic. AN mortality was 8.1 times higher than non-AN mortality. Analyses also uncovered previously unknown mortality peaks in 1920. Both subpopulations showed characteristically high mortality of young adults, possibly due to imprinting with the 1889-90 pandemic virus, but their age-specific mortality patterns were different: non-AN mortality declined after age 25-29 and stayed relatively low for the elderly, while AN mortality increased after age 25-29, peaked at age 40-44, and remained high up to age 64. This suggests a relative lack of exposure to H1-type viruses pre-1889 among AN persons. In contrast, non-AN persons, often temporary residents, may have gained immunity before moving to Alaska.

Ny pandemi-podkast

Professor Mamelund om influensapandemier. – Goffeng På Leting | Podcast on Spotify

Lytt gjerne. Det ble en spennende samtale med Espen Goffeng om historiske pandemier, risikofaktorer og konsekvenser. Hva er egentlig long Covid? Hvor mye Covid er det egentlig i denne tilstanden? Visste du at det fantes en “long spanskesyken” i 1918?

Vi prater også Covidreaksjoner, politisering, Spanskesyken, Russian Flu, Hong Kong-virus og pandemier som sivilisasjoners kanskje uheldigste bivirkning.

Call for Applications: Visiting Researcher Program, Fall 2024

The Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) invites applications for our Fall 2024 Visiting Researcher program. Preference will be given to researchers with potential for obtaining external funding, including Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral Fellowship applicants.

One applicant will be selected based on their research experience and interests. We expect that the Visiting Researcher will contribute concrete ideas for – and at least initial drafting of – a funding proposal during their stay in fall 2024 (minimum 2 weeks, preferably up to 4 weeks). These proposals will be led by the Visiting Researcher with PANSOC as a partner and submitted to local funding bodies corresponding to the researchers’ affiliations/countries or to the Research Council of Norway or NordForsk with us as PI, as appropriate.

We encourage applications from researchers in all fields with interests in the social, economic, and biological aspects of historical, current, and future pandemics. We are particularly interested in topics such as:

  • Disparities in disease outcomes or impacts of public health measures based on socioeconomic, ethnic, health, and/or other inequalities.
  • Syndemic interactions with non-communicable diseases and chronic health conditions, including long-term health impacts of pandemics.
  • Long-term impacts of pandemics, including on mental health through factors such as bereavement or social dislocation, and economic indicators.
  • Research that links immunology and virology to the social science of pandemics.
  • Relationships between infectious disease epidemics and other crises such as wars or extreme climate events/climate change.
  • Comparisons of pandemics with other types of crises such as famine and natural disasters.

The Visiting Researcher program will cover transportation costs to Oslo and accommodation up to 50,000 NOK.

To apply, please send 1) a CV, 2) a description (1-2 pages) of your idea for a joint proposal, 3) tentative budget for the visit, and 4) anticipated timing or availability for travel to Oslo to Svenn-Erik Mamelund (masv@oslomet.no).

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 5 July 2024

Ny kronikk: Akademisk restitusjon

Idrettsutøvere vet at restitusjon, periodisering og alternativ trening er viktig for utøvelse og fremgang. I kronikken Akademisk restitusjon (khrono.no) hevder senterleder Mamelund at det samme gjelder for akademisk arbeid og fremgang.

Han mener ikke at akademikere, skribenter, kunstnere og folk i frie yrker har et særegent behov for restitusjon/sabbat i sitt arbeid. Men han hevder at dem i disse gruppene som definerer jobb som livsstil/hobby i det daglige kan lære noe av idrettsutøvere.

Hva tenker du/dere?

Gerardo Chowell at PANSOC in May-June

While in Norway, Gerardo Chowell, Prof. at Georgia State University (left in the photo), will be conducting a comprehensive analysis of shifts in income-based poverty within Chile at the comuna level, the most precise administrative division in the country. This investigation focuses on the periods before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. He leverages data from a national socio-economic characterization survey carried out in 2017, 2020, and 2022 to accomplish this. This rich dataset provides a detailed view of socio-economic changes over time.

Following this analysis, our research team plans to quantify excess mortality rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. This subsequent study will examine mortality variations across different levels of poverty while also accounting for age group differences, thereby offering insights into the pandemic’s unequal impacts on various socio-demographic groups.

2 May Seminar: Socioeconomic mortality differences during the Great Influenza in Spain

For the fifth Pandemics & Society Seminar of our Spring 2024 series, we are pleased to welcome Sergi Basco (Universitat Barcelona). The seminar will be held on Thursday, 2 May at the normal time (1600 CET). More information about our speaker and the presentation is below. You can sign up for email notifications about the seminar series, including the Zoom details, here.

Abstract (and link to paper)

Despite being one of the deadliest viruses in history, there is limited information on the socioeconomic factors that affected mortality rates during the Great Influenza Pandemic. In this study, we use occupation-province level data to investigate the relationship between influenza excess mortality rates and occupation-related status in Spain. We obtain three main results. Firstly, individuals in low-income occupations experienced the highest excess mortality, pointing to a notable income gradient. Secondly, professions that involved more social interaction were associated with a higher excess of mortality, regardless of income. Finally, we observe a substantial rural mortality penalty, even after controlling for income-related occupational groups. Based on this evidence, it seems that the high number of deaths was caused by not self-isolating. Some individuals did not quarantine themselves because they could not afford to miss work. In rural areas, home confinement was likely more limited because their inhabitants did not have immediate access to information about the pandemic or fully understand its impact due to their limited experience handling influenza outbreaks.

About the Speaker

Sergi Basco is Associate Professor of Economics (with tenure) in Universitat Barcelona. He received his PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His work focusses on understanding the effects of globalization and economic crises. His academic work has been published, among others, in Journal of Economic Growth, Journal of International Economics, European Economic Review, Journal of Economic History, Explorations in Economic History, World Development, and Economics and Human Biology. He has published the books Housing Bubbles: Origins and Consequences (Winner of the Catalan Society of Economics Prize 2020) and Pandemics, Economics and Inequality: Lessons from the Spanish Flu (joint with J. Domènech and J. Rosés).

New Guest Researcher: Merle Eisenberg

Merle Eisenberg will be visiting PANSOC between 16th of May and 5th of June. He is an assistant professor of history at Oklahoma State University. He is a historian of late antiquity and the early middle ages and a historian of disease, pandemics, and the environment.

The 1918 Influenza Pandemic is supposedly an outlier compared to most historical pandemics because minority groups may have died at a lower rate in some locations.

In Eisenberg’s own words, “my goal at PANSOC is to work with the world leading experts on the 1918 Influenza and its impact based on race and socio-economic status to understand if and where this was the case and why. To investigate this potentially unique outcome, I have been co-running a project at Oklahoma State University entitled “Looking back and moving forward: Designing for disease mitigation among Black American Communities.” It has gathered data on the neighborhood level impact of the 1918 Influenza on the largest cities in Oklahoma to understand the impact of disease on Black and Indigenous communities. We have death records of almost 700 individuals geolocated to geographical locations, which given that Oklahoma was a racially segregated state in 1918, we can use to map deaths based on race to understand differential mortalities. At PANSOC, I will be expanding my work on the impact of pandemics in Oklahoma as a case study to understand the disparate impact of disease based on race and socio-economic status”.

Bio

Merle Eisenberg has co-authored the 2023 book Diseased Cinema: Plagues, Pandemics and Zombies in American Movies, which discusses how the depiction of diseases in movies has changed over the last century and what these changes reveal about American culture. Diseased Cinema analyzes how American movies about infectious diseases have reflected and driven dominant cultural narratives during the past century.

He has several other disease projects underway. The first, “Pandemics and History: the Plague Concept, Disease, and the End of Antiquity,” tracks the development of the Justinianic Plague. It analyzes the plague’s differential impact based on local conditions and investigates how a plague pandemic as a catastrophic myth was created along with its continuing use to the present day, including during Covid. The second with colleagues at Oklahoma State University, “Using socioeconomic, behavioral and environmental data to understand disease dynamics: exploring COVID-19 outcomes in Oklahoma,” received a 3 year National Science Foundation Grant for 2024-2026. As part of this project, he is investigating the impact of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic on populations in Oklahoma to understand the comparative impact of disease on minority populations.

He has also published articles on a variety of topics and disciplinary journals including the American Historical Review, Past & Present, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Medieval Europe, Journal of Late Antiquity, and Speculum (forthcoming). He hosts the podcast Infectious Historians on the history of disease, pandemics and medicine, which has run for over 4 years and has now released over 120 episodes.