Jason Beaubien

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.

In this role, he reports on a range of issues across the world. He's covered the plight of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, mass cataract surgeries in Ethiopia, abortion in El Salvador, poisonous gold mines in Nigeria, drug-resistant malaria in Myanmar and tuberculosis in Tajikistan. He was part of a team of reporters at NPR that won a Peabody Award in 2015 for their extensive coverage of the West Africa Ebola outbreak. His current beat also examines development issues including why Niger has the highest birth rate in the world, can private schools serve some of the poorest kids on the planet and the links between obesity and economic growth.

Prior to becoming the Global Health and Development Correspondent in 2012, Beaubien spent four years based in Mexico City covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. In that role, Beaubien filed stories on politics in Cuba, the 2010 Haitian earthquake, the FMLN victory in El Salvador, the world's richest man and Mexico's brutal drug war.

For his first multi-part series as the Mexico City correspondent, Beaubien drove the length of the U.S./Mexico border making a point to touch his toes in both oceans. The stories chronicled the economic, social and political changes along the violent frontier.

In 2002, Beaubien joined NPR after volunteering to cover a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast. Over the next four years, Beaubien worked as a foreign correspondent in sub-Saharan Africa, visiting 27 countries on the continent. His reporting ranged from poverty on the world's poorest continent, the HIV in the epicenter of the epidemic, and the all-night a cappella contests in South Africa, to Afro-pop stars in Nigeria and a trial of white mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea.

During this time, he covered the famines and wars of Africa, as well as inspiring preachers and Nobel laureates. Beaubien was one of the first journalists to report on the huge exodus of people out of Sudan's Darfur region into Chad, as villagers fled some of the initial attacks by the Janjawid. He reported extensively on the steady deterioration of Zimbabwe and still has a collection of worthless Zimbabwean currency.

In 2006, Beaubien was awarded a Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan to study the relationship between the developed and the developing world.

Beaubien grew up in Maine, started his radio career as an intern at NPR Member Station KQED in San Francisco and worked at WBUR in Boston before joining NPR.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Today the Trump administration formally notified the United Nations that it is pulling out of the World Health Organization. For more on this move, NPR's global health correspondent Jason Beaubien joins us now.

Hey, Jason.

Chile looked as if it were well prepared to deal with the new coronavirus.

It's a rich country — classified as high income by the World Bank. Life expectancy is roughly 80 years — better than the United States'. It has a solid, modern health care system, and when the outbreak began spreading, officials made sure they had plenty of ventilators and intensive care beds at the ready.

Why the coronavirus appears to affect children differently than it affects adults is one of the great mysteries of the current pandemic.

And it's a question that Rosalind Eggo, an assistant professor of mathematical modeling from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and her colleagues have tried to answer.

"What we found was that people under 20 were about half as susceptible to infection as people over 20," Eggo says.

Efforts are underway in Washington to revamp U.S. foreign aid in the wake of the coronavirus.

Proposals from both the White House and the Senate would shift billions of dollars in foreign assistance, consolidate control over U.S. humanitarian aid in the State Department and — according to one former top aid official — undermine the lifesaving work of USAID.

Two new papers published in the journal Nature say that lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus were highly effective, prevented tens of millions of infections and saved millions of lives.

The World Health Organization says it is temporarily halting its clinical trials that use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients over published concerns that the drug may do more harm than good.

The move comes after the medical journal The Lancet reported on Friday that patients getting hydroxychloroquine were dying at higher rates than other coronavirus patients.

The World Health Organization's annual oversight convention will be held by teleconference beginning Monday, as the worst pandemic in modern history continues around the globe.

NPR / YouTube

You might have never heard the phrase "contact tracing" until recently.

Updated on May 13 at 12:30 p.m.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Haiti has doubled over the past week, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health.

As of May 13, there were 219 cases, up from 108 a week earlier. Cases are now being reported from all 10 departments, the local version of states, although the bulk of confirmed infections are in and around the capital Port-au-Prince.

Early on in the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore was praised as a shining example of how to handle the new virus. The World Health Organization pointed out that Singapore's aggressive contact tracing allowed the city-state to quickly identify and isolate any new cases. It quickly shut down clusters of cases and kept most of its economy — and its schools — open. Through the beginning of April, Singapore had recorded fewer than 600 cases.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, says contact tracing will be vital in the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

Poor countries have advice to offer.

Contact tracing is used all over the world, including in the U.S. The idea is to track down anyone in recent contact with a newly diagnosed patient, then monitor the health of these contacts. In the developing world, it's been a valuable tool in fighting infectious diseases like Ebola and tuberculosis. Public health workers there have lots of experience.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The worst outbreaks of COVID-19 so far have been in colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere during winter or early spring. Will warmer weather slow the transmission?

Could the Southern Hemisphere see outbreaks intensify as that part of the globe moves into winter?

And is it possible that transmission might be naturally interrupted as it is each year for the seasonal flu?

These are some of the key questions about COVID-19 that scientists are trying to answer.

One of the new staples of the coronavirus outbreak here in the U.S. has been the nightly briefings from the White House coronavirus task force. A regular at the lectern, and often the only woman on stage, is Dr. Deborah Birx. In her role as coronavirus response coordinator, she has become one of the most prominent voices of the administration around this crisis.

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