Tim Newcomb, The 74 |
When high school senior Vivian Yee started researching the health disparities in underprivileged communities during the pandemic, she hoped to eventually help minimize inequities among the socially vulnerable. She didn’t have to wait long — her new, comprehensive approach to studying the impact of infectious diseases is being used by the congressional Coronavirus Task Force to guide both relief legislation and changes for future efforts.
Her project uses the U.S. government’s Social Vulnerability Index to demonstrate the greater impact of COVID-19 on socially vulnerable communities and identifies public health policies that can potentially improve health care responses and diminish inequalities.
“They actually accepted it to be used to guide the design of relief legislation,” she says. “I also wrote a lot about long-term changes that need to be made. As they continue to discuss, in the long run, how we can better prepare for the next outbreak, that is also something they are going to take into account.”
Yee, a senior at International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, did an internship last summer through the Department of Defense with the U.S. COVID Response Team and was encouraged by staff to work on her own experiments. With an interest in social justice and cell biology, Yee started looking at the pandemic in a way that brought together her interests.