In The New York Times, Analysis Group Affiliate Anupam Jena Discusses How the COVID-19 “Birthday Effect” Transcends Political Boundaries

July 28, 2021

Much of the commentary on the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted divisions that track political polarization in the US. But there are also points of commonality – in particular, the “birthday effect,” as a recent study reveals. In “The Covid ‘Birthday Effect’ Crossed Political Boundaries,” an op-ed published in The New York Times, Analysis Group affiliate Anupam B. Jena notes that household COVID-19 infections increased by nearly 30% in the two weeks following a household birthday, and increased by even more following a child’s birthday.

With his colleagues, Dr. Jena, who is an associate professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School, as well as an economist and practicing physician, found that the percentage of transmission was the same whether the household’s county had voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election. Based on these data, Dr. Jena and his colleagues concluded that “the social need to gather and celebrate, despite the clear risks involved, was compelling regardless of politics.” In the article, Dr. Jena also examines possible relationships between political leanings and vaccination choices.

The cross-sectional study, which originally appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine, analyzed health insurance data from 2.9 million households.

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