Showing posts with label COVID-19 Related. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19 Related. Show all posts

14 January 2021

Trump's Twitter Ban Obscures The Real Problem: State-Backed Manipulation Is Rampant On Social Media

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Trump's Twitter Ban Obscures The Real Problem: State-Backed Manipulation Is Rampant On Social Media
Trump's Twitter Ban Obscures The Real Problem: State-Backed Manipulation Is Rampant On Social Media (ozrimoz/Shutterstock)

Donald Trump’s controversial removal from social media platforms has reignited debate around the censorship of information published online. But the issue of disinformation and manipulation on social media goes far beyond one man’s Twitter account. And it is much more widespread than previously thought.

Since 2016, our team at the Oxford Internet Institute has monitored the rapid global proliferation of social media manipulation campaigns, which we define as the use of digital tools to influence online public behaviour. In the past four years, social media manipulation has evolved from a niche concern to a global threat to democracy and human rights.

Our latest report found that organised social media manipulation campaigns are now common across the world — identified in 81 countries in 2020, up from 70 countries in 2019. The map below shows the global distribution of these 81 countries, marked in dark blue.

Trump's Twitter Ban Obscures The Real Problem: State-Backed Manipulation Is Rampant On Social Media
The countries marked in dark blue experienced industrial disinformation campaigns in 2020. (OII, Author provided (No reuse))
In our report, we focus on the use of “cyber troops”, which are teams from the government, the military or political parties which are committed to manipulating public opinion on social media. Cyber troops regularly conduct what we call “computational propaganda” campaigns.

Computational propaganda involves the use of programmed bots or humans to spread purposefully misleading information across the internet, often on an industrial scale.

To do this, computational propagandists make use of an extensive toolkit of disinformation tools. Political bots amplify hate speech and create the impression of trending political messages on Twitter and Facebook. The illegal harvesting of data helps propagandists target messaging at specific, often vulnerable individuals and groups. Troll armies, meanwhile, are regularly deployed to suppresses political activism and the freedom of the press.

In 2020, we identified 62 countries in which state agencies themselves are using these tools to shape public opinion. In other countries included in our study, these tools are being used by private organisations, or foreign actors.

Disinformation for hire

Despite the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposing how private firms can meddle in democratic elections, our research also found an alarming increase in the use of “disinformation-for-hire” services across the world. Using government and political party funding, private-sector cyber troops are increasingly being hired to spread manipulated messages online, or to drown out other voices on social media.

Our research found state actors working with private computational propaganda companies in 48 countries in 2020, up from 21 identified between 2017 and 2018, and only nine such instances between 2016 and 2017. Since 2007, almost US$60 million (£49 million) has been spent globally on contracts with these firms.

Additionally, we’ve uncovered relationships between hired cyber troops and civil society groups who ideologically support a particular cause, such as youth groups and social media influencers. In the United States, for example, the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point Action was used to spread online disinformation and pro-Trump narratives about both COVID-19 and mail-in ballots.

To achieve their political ends, smear campaigns against a political opponent are the most common strategy employed by cyber troops, featuring in 94% of all the countries we investigated. In 90% of countries we observed the spreading of pro-party or pro-government propaganda. Suppressing participation through trolling or harassment was a feature in 73% of countries, while in 48% cyber troops’ messaging sought to polarise citizens.

Social media moderation

Clearly, debates around the censoring of Trump and his supporters on social media cover only one facet of the industry’s disinformation crisis. As more countries invest in campaigns that seek to actively mislead their citizens, social media firms are likely to face increased calls for moderation and regulation — and not just of Trump, his followers and related conspiracy theories like QAnon.

Trump's Twitter Ban Obscures The Real Problem: State-Backed Manipulation Is Rampant On Social Media
Donald Trump was banned from Twitter in the aftermath of the Capitol riots (pcruciatti/Shutterstock)

Already this year, the prevalence of computational propaganda campaigns throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of the US election has prompted many social media firms to limit the misuse of their platforms by removing accounts which they believe are managed by cyber troops.

For instance, our research found that between January 2019 and December 2020, Facebook removed 10,893 accounts, 12,588 pages and 603 groups from its platform. In the same period, Twitter removed 294,096 accounts, and continues to remove accounts linked to the far right.

Despite these account removals, our research has exposed that between January 2019 and December 2020 almost US$10 million was spent by cyber troops on political advertisements. And a crucial part of the story is that social media companies continue to profit from the promotion of disinformation on their platforms. Calls for tighter regulation and firmer policing are likely to follow Facebook and Twitter until they truly get to grips with the tendency of their platforms to host, spread and multiply disinformation.

A strong, functional democracy relies upon the public’s access to high-quality information. This enables citizens to engage in informed deliberations and to seek consensus. It’s clear that social media platforms have become crucial in facilitating this information exchange.

These companies should therefore increase their efforts to flag and remove disinformation, along with all cyber troop accounts which are used to spread harmful content online. Otherwise, the continued escalation in computational propaganda campaigns that our research has revealed will only heighten political polarisation, diminish public trust in institutions, and further undermine democracy worldwide.

About Today's Contributor:

Hannah Bailey, PhD researcher in Social Data Science, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

4 January 2021

Long COVID: Who Is At Risk?

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Long COVID: Who Is At Risk?
Long COVID: Who Is At Risk? (fizkes/Shutterstock)
For most people, infection with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – leads to mild, short-term symptoms, acute respiratory illness, or possibly no symptoms at all. But some people have long-lasting symptoms after their infection – this has been dubbed “long COVID”.

Scientists are still researching long COVID. It’s not well understood, though our knowledge about it is growing. Here I take a look at what we’ve learned about it so far – who is at risk, how common it is and what its effects are.

In defining who is at risk from long COVID and the mechanisms involved, we may reveal suitable treatments to be tried – or whether steps taken early in the course of the illness might ameliorate it.

Broad vulnerability

Long COVID is characterised by a constellation of symptoms, including – variably – shortness of breath, marked fatigue, headache, and loss of ability to taste and smell normally. A relatively large study of 384 individuals ill enough to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 showed that 53% remained breathless at a follow-up assessment one to two months later, with 34% having a cough and 69% reporting fatigue.

Indeed, early analysis of self-reported data submitted through the COVID Symptom Study app suggests that 13% of people who experience COVID-19 symptoms have them for more than 28 days, while 4% have symptoms after more than 56 days.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people with more severe disease initially – characterised by more than five symptoms – seem to be at increased risk of long COVID. Older age and being female also appear to be risk factors for having prolonged symptoms, as is having a higher body mass index.

Those using the app tend to be at the fitter end of the population, with an interest in health matters. So it is surprising that such a high proportion have symptoms one to two months after the initial infection. Generally, these aren’t people who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Long COVID: Who Is At Risk?
Even highly fit people are being stopped in their tracks by long COVID.(Rido/Shutterstock)

Another piece of early research (awaiting peer review) suggests that SARS-CoV-2 could also have a long-term impact on people’s organs. But the profile of those affected in this study is different to those reporting symptoms via the app.

This research, which looked at a sample of 200 patients who had recovered from COVID-19, found mild organ impairment in 32% of people’s hearts, 33% of people’s lungs and 12% of people’s kidneys. Multiple organ damage was found in 25% of patients.

Patients in this study had a mean age of 44 years, so were very much part of the young, working-age population. Only 18% had been hospitalised with COVID-19, meaning organ damage may occur even after a non-severe infection. Having a disease known to lead to more severe COVID-19, such as type 2 diabetes and ischaemic heart disease, wasn’t a prerequisite for organ damage either.

Finding out what’s going on

There are many reasons why people may have symptoms months after a viral illness during a pandemic. But getting to the bottom of what’s going on inside people will be easier for some parts of the body than others.

Where symptoms point to a specific organ, investigating is relatively straightforward. Clinicians can examine the electrical flow around the heart if someone is suffering palpitations. Or they can study lung function – tissue elasticity and gas exchange – where shortness of breath is the predominant symptom. To determine whether kidney function has deteriorated, components in a patient’s blood plasma are compared to those in their urine to measure how well the kidneys are filtering waste products.

Rather harder to explore is the symptom of fatigue. Another recent large-scale study has shown that this symptom is common after COVID-19 – occurring in more than half of cases – and appears unrelated to the severity of the early illness.

What’s more, tests showed that the people examined didn’t have elevated levels of inflammation, suggesting that their fatigue wasn’t caused by continued infection or their immune system working overtime. Risk factors for long-lasting symptoms in this study included being female – in keeping with the COVID Symptom App study – and, interestingly, having a previous diagnosis of anxiety and depression.

Long COVID: Who Is At Risk?
Fatigue is the most common long COVID symptom. (Stock-Asso/Shutterstock)

While men are at increased risk of severe infection, that women seem to be more affected by long COVID may reflect their different or changing hormone status. The ACE2 receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect the body is present not only on the surface of respiratory cells, but also on the cells of many organs that produce hormones, including the thyroid, adrenal gland and ovaries.

Some symptoms of long COVID overlap with menopausal symptoms, and hormone replacement using medication may be one route to reducing the impact of symptoms. However, clinical trials will be essential to accurately determining whether this approach is both safe and effective. Applications to launch such research have been made.

With so much having happened over the last year, we will need to tease apart which impacts stem from the virus itself versus which might be the consequence of the massive social disruption wrought by this pandemic. What is clear, however, is that long-term symptoms after COVID-19 are common, and that research into the causes and treatments of long COVID will likely be needed long after the outbreak itself has subsided.

About Today's Contributor:

Frances Williams, Professor of Genomic Epidemiology and Hon Consultant Rheumatologist, King's College London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

21 December 2020

We Are Facing A Difficult Winter – But Philosophy Can Help

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We Are Facing A Difficult Winter – But Philosophy Can Help
We Are Facing A Difficult Winter – But Philosophy Can Help (Photo by Sam Wordley)
All around the world, Christmas dreams are becoming nightmares. As R numbers increase and the epidemic spikes, people are seeing long cherished plans go up in smoke.

In England, plans have been curtailed as the five-day Christmas bubble which would have allowed three households to celebrate together has been reduced to one day for two households. For those in the new Tier 4, no household mixing at all is permitted.

After months of lockdowns and social distancing guidelines, many people will be feeling defeated – and exhausted by the prospect of a long winter to come, with further lockdowns possible before vaccines have been widely rolled out. If even the goal of spending one warm and happy day with friends and family cannot be attained, what is the point of all the hard work?

In times like this, though, we can find solace in a few philosophical ideas. One is the concept of human finitude. Simply put, human finitude means we are imperfect creatures with a limited lifespan. We are far from god-like; we do not have a god’s eye view, nor are we immortal.

In philosophy, finitude refers to the study of our human limitations. Many philosophers have explored finitude, including Kant, Heidegger, Levinas and Nietzsche.

This may seem an odd idea to cling to, but recognising that we are finite, imperfect creatures can bring comfort during trying times. It is understandable to feel bewilderment at changing government advice. It is understandable to resent other people telling us to stay away from our loved ones, and to feel deep sadness at cancelled plans. And it is understandable to begin to lose the resolve to do the right thing. If finitude tells us anything, it is that we are only human.

And as finite humans, we are vulnerable. Among other things, we can die, we can lie and we can be used against our wishes.

COVID-19 has taught us how intensively mutually vulnerable we really are. We depend on each other – but this dependency also puts us at risk. More socialising means an increase in virus transmission. Carrying on socialising during a spike in the epidemic might mean an increase in the number of people suffering severely from COVID-19, and a rise in the number of deaths.

So, while finitude tells us that it is understandable to feel the desire to break lockdowns and travel limits, vulnerability keeps us committed to doing the right thing by others – others who might be more vulnerable than us.

There is another philosophical concept that can keep us going in trying times. It is also more recognisably upbeat: hope.

Philosophically, there is a difference between good hope” and “bad hope. While bad hope is simply unrealistic optimism, good hope has warrant; it is based on the idea that goals and aspirations are possible, no matter how bad things seem.

In our current situation, hope is an attitude we have warrant to adopt: what we hope for is really possible. A vaccine is already being rolled out, and with it come warranted hopes: for summer meet-ups with family, holidays with friends, the continuance of lives and loves.

In fact, hope is also related to human finitude. Were we god-like, we would be immortal and all-knowing, and hope for how the future might turn out would be unnecessary. Uncertainty is an inescapable part of the human condition. Even when we cannot be certain of the end result of a commitment or aspiration, we can still hope.

It is understandable to feel resentment when plans are changed – and to feel the desire to ignore guidelines. Yet, recognising our mutual vulnerability means we cannot ignore the small voice telling us that the right thing to do is stay home. And hope can help us. Even as some hopes this Christmas are dashed, we can begin to formulate others. Spring is coming, and with it the hope of a better future.

About Today's Contributor:

Katy Dineen, Assistant Lecturer in Moral Responsibility and Political Theory, University College Cork

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

13 December 2020

Pandemic December: How to Stay Connected and Resilient in a COVID-19 Holiday Season

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A new perspective and approach may be required to get through this year’s pandemic-heavy holiday season. (Shutterstock)
A new perspective and approach may be required to get through this year’s pandemic-heavy holiday season. (Shutterstock)
This year’s holiday season will no doubt be different. The holidays are already a time of increased mental health risks because of anxiety, depression, seasonal affective disorder, alcohol/substance use and other factors. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic will add a major pressure to the festive season.

Whether you mark holidays in December or not, typical winter customs are being disrupted. The pandemic has had a significant impact on society’s ability to connect and has also reduced individuals’ access to wellness-maintaining strategies and activities. For example, COVID-19 has limited and in some cases halted visits with loved ones, gatherings with friends and colleagues, and as cold weather comes, our options for outdoor activities will decrease.

A new perspective and approach may be required to get through this year’s holiday season.

The rewards of gratitude and compassion

As a health psychologist and a psychiatrist, our work at The Ottawa Hospital over the last decade has been focused on staff and physician wellness. When people are experiencing a chronic crisis, it’s exhausting, and leads to wear and tear on both body and mind. This can lead to “survival mode” in which we can become more focused on our own needs.

As we feel the impact of COVID-19 fatigue, there is increasing acknowledgement of the impact on health and wellness of the front-line workers. One of the biggest boosts we can give ourselves is to give to others. Self-transcendent emotions, which include compassion and gratitude, have a positive physiological impact by stabilizing our heart rate and blood pressure. In fact, giving to others stimulates the brain’s reward centre, and that’s why it feels so good.

Giving doesn’t have to be monetary. Messages of gratitude can be delivered throughout this pandemic to everyone working on the front lines, including health-care professionals, teachers, delivery services including post office outlets, and all of the those working in businesses like stores, pharmacies and restaurants. Thank you.

Rebooting and connecting

For many people, technology may be the only way to connect to others during the pandemic, and for some this might be the safest way to connect to family and friends over the holidays. (Pexels/Koolshooters)
In uncertain times, people can get overloaded by too much information. One way to reboot is to get out of your head. Try to pick activities that use your hands and your body. This slows you down and can shift your focus into the here and now. This can give you a sense of control and anchors you to the present. Art and crafts, photography, exercise and playing a musical instrument can all provide a means to focus our attention on a specific and in in-the-moment task.

For a bigger boost, think back to activities you loved as a kid, such as colouring, dancing, baking, singing at the top of your lungs.

We used to worry about how attached we were to our devices and particularly concerned about total screen time for kids. For many, this may be the only way to connect to others, and for some this might be the safest way to connect to family and friends over the holidays. It may be even more essential for those who live alone and/or who may have lost a significant person in their lives this year.

Part of “Zoom fatigue” may be linked to inactivity and repetitiveness of our daily activities during the pandemic. There may be innovative ways, through technology, for you to enjoy activities you used to do, and reach out for support and connection.

Expectations and expressions

As we reflect on how to approach the holiday season, it’s important to scale our expectations and be compassionate with ourselves and others in these unusual times. We do need to make space for all of the emotions — good and bad — that we are experiencing. This may include frustration, anger, anxiety, sadness and disappointment.

It’s important to proactively set up activities and actions that can connect us to our humanness: expressing our kindness and gratitude to others, being in harmony with our technology, and trying to reconnect with moments and times in our lives that were meaningful or joyful.

About Today's Contributor:

Kerri Ritchie, Professional Practice Coordinator, Psychology, The Ottawa Hospital, & Clinical Professor, L’Universit├ę d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa and Caroline Gerin-Lajoie, Psychiatrist, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa, and Executive VIce-President, Physician Wellness and Medical Culture, Canadian Medical Association

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

8 December 2020

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Researchers Find Elevated Biomarker Related to Blood Vessel Damage in All Children with SARS-CoV-2 Regardless of Disease Severity

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Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Researchers Find Elevated Biomarker Related to Blood Vessel Damage in All Children with SARS-CoV-2 Regardless of Disease Severity
Silhouette of a boy during sunset (Photo by Orlando Vera)
Researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have found elevated levels of a biomarker related to blood vessel damage in children with SARS-CoV-2 infection, even if the children had minimal or no symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • They also found that a high proportion of children with SARS-CoV-2 infection met clinical and diagnostic criteria for thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). TMA is a syndrome that involves clotting in the small blood vessels and has been identified as a potential cause for severe manifestations of COVID-19 in adults.
"We do not yet know the clinical implications of this elevated biomarker in children with COVID-19 and no symptoms or minimal symptoms," said co-senior author David T. Teachey, MD, an attending physician, Co-Leader of the Immune Dysregulation Frontier Program, and Director of Clinical Research at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at CHOP. "We should continue testing for and monitoring children with SARS-CoV-2 so that we can better understand how the virus affects them in both the short and long term."
Most children infected with SARS-CoV-2 have mild or minimal symptoms, although a small proportion develop severe disease or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a post-viral inflammatory response to COVID-19. Researchers have identified TMA mediated by the complement cascade as a potential cause for severe manifestations of COVID-19 in adults. The complement cascade is part of the immune system that enhances the immune response but also promotes inflammation. However, the role of complement-mediated TMA has not been studied in children.

To assess the role of complement activation in children with SARS-CoV-2, the Immune Dysregulation Frontier Program, including co-senior authors Edward Behrens, MD and Hamid Bassiri, MD, PhD and co-first authors Caroline Diorio, MD and Kevin McNerney, MD, analyzed 50 pediatric patients hospitalized at CHOP with acute SARS-CoV-2 infection between April and July 2020. Of those 50 patients, 21 had minimal COVID-19, 11 had severe COVID-19, and 18 were diagnosed with MIS-C. The researchers used soluble C5b9 (sC5b9) as a biomarker for complement activation and TMA. sC5b9 has been implicated as an indicator of severity in TMA after hematopoietic stem cell transplant; transplant patients with markedly elevated sC5b9 have increased mortality.

The researchers found elevations of C5b9 in patients with severe COVID-19 and MIS-C, but to their surprise, they also found that C5b9 was elevated in patients with minimal or asymptomatic disease. Although the study was prospective, meaning patients were enrolled and data collected from the time of hospitalization, the researchers obtained some of the laboratory data retrospectively when it came to evaluating whether they met the clinical criteria for TMA. Of the 22 patients for whom complete data were available, 19 (86%) met the criteria for TMA. Additionally, sC5b9 levels were elevated both in patients who did and did not meet criteria for TMA.
"Although most children with COVID-19 do not have severe disease, our study shows that there may be other effects of SARS-CoV-2 that are worthy of investigation," Dr. Teachey said. "Future studies are needed to determine if hospitalized children with SARS-CoV-2 should be screened for TMA, if TMA-directed management is helpful, and if there are any short- or long-term clinical consequences of complement activation and endothelial damage in children with COVID-19 or MIS-C. The most important takeaway from this study is we have more to learn about SARS-CoV-2. We should not make guesses about the short and long-term impact of infection."
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Researchers Find Elevated Biomarker Related to Blood Vessel Damage in All Children with SARS-CoV-2 Regardless of Disease Severity
Dr. David Teachey (right) and Dr. Edward Behrens (left), co-senior authors of the study.

The findings were published today in Blood Advances:

About Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: 

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals, and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 595-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. 

4 December 2020

COVID-19: Henry Ford Health System Launches "Tough Love" Campaign [Video Included]

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COVID-19: Henry Ford Health System Launches "Tough Love" Campaign
Henry Ford Health System is mounting a multi-media, multi-platform effort to encourage Michiganders to show their toughness and compassion through a renewed commitment to protecting those we love.
Nearly ten months into the pandemic, with disruptions to everyday life spreading "COVID-fatigue" almost as fast as the disease itself, Henry Ford Health System is mounting a multi-media, multi-platform effort to encourage Michiganders to show their toughness and compassion through a renewed commitment to protecting those we love.
The "Tough Love" campaign will launch publicly across TV and social media on Saturday, December 5, and later on radio and in print, acknowledging that, while it is not tough to wear a mask, wash your hands, or practice social distancing, "It's tough as nails to keep at it…months after we thought this thing would be behind us," to cancel holiday plans or to show your family and friends how much you love them by NOT seeing them.
"It's one thing to talk about infection and death rates, and repeating that people should wear masks, keep washing their hands and continue social distancing," said Heather Geisler, Henry Ford SVP and Chief Marketing, Communications and Experience Officer. "It's quite another to demonstrate in the starkest terms how we have endured and overcome past challenges as a community, and how we can be tough enough to get to the other side of this one. These individual acts of resolve will make all the difference."
Using archival images of other tough situations faced by Michiganders, including civil unrest in the 1960's, monstrous snow storms, as well as the determined and dedicated faces of Henry Ford frontline healthcare workers, the campaign calls on people to be tough and to persevere for the love of their neighbors, family and friends so that we can all celebrate the holidays next year "with no more empty chairs around the table."

  • In addition to radio, TV, print and social media, and Tough Love webpage, the campaign will also include other non-traditional efforts, including "Tough Love Letters" - an ongoing collection of select letters and notes from our frontline workers about the toughness they face on the front lines of the pandemic every day.
"At its core, this campaign acknowledges the fatigue we all feel and encourages perseverance, but it's also a love letter to our team members and those who are struggling," said Geisler. "We have been so inspired by the grit and compassion we've seen in our organization and our communities and we want to honor that."

The Video:

19 November 2020

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge [Video + Lyrics Included]

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"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)
As COVID-19 cases rise exponentially, entrepreneur, philanthropist, songwriter and executive producer Ken Freirich today released a remix and video for his song "Healthcare Workers Rock!". 
The song was written as a rock anthem and the heartfelt lyrics have already struck a chord with frontline healthcare workers around the world fighting COVID-19 and putting their lives on the line every day to help others. 
"The truth is healthcare workers are at their breaking point. The stress of the pandemic right now is unbearable. The music and lyrics of Healthcare Workers Rock! give us an emotional release that make every day more tolerable," said Joseph Varon, MD, Chief Medical Officer of United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, who has been on the frontlines of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. "I've literally witnessed our workers humming and singing the song to help lift their own spirit and the spirit of others. I had a nurse cry when she was asked to be in the video, because it reinforced what a difference she's making for so many. The song and the video are just what the doctor ordered, especially now as we enter what will possibly be the darkest days of the pandemic. We must now get this music therapy to every hospital around the world because it's a boost that will keep our healthcare workers going."
The driving force behind the song is Ken Freirich, a songwriter and drummer who lives by a daily mantra of "making the world a better place." He felt a calling to write and produce a song that could bring people together in a time of crisis. For the song remix, Freirich served as the executive producer and recruited P!nk Drummer Mark Schulman to play drums on the song, GRAMMY Award-winning Producer and Mixer Scott Jacoby to produce and remix the song and GRAMMY Award winner Emily Lazar to master the single. 

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)
In addition, Freirich's new record label, Better World Records, LLC is partnering with #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative created by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation to provide frontline healthcare workers with the physical and psychological support and resources they so desperately need as they serve on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

#FirstRespondersFirst provides essential supplies and protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, and critical mental health support and resources to ensure that frontline workers are protected, well-supported and resilient.

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)

Since the song's initial release last month, doctors, nurses, EMTs, former COVID-19 patients and loved ones have expressed how the song has become their anthem, helping capture their experiences and feelings, while creating a positive and uplifting movement to help counter one of the toughest years in recent history. The song is on repeat as people travel to and from work and has inspired some workers to create and share their own TikTok videos featuring the song.
"When Ken asked me to play on the track and be in the video, I grabbed my sticks, asked my daughter to be in the video and I jumped at the opportunity," said Mark Schulman, P!nk Drummer. "Healthcare workers are long overdue for an anthem, and the lyrics and video really capture all elements of today's healthcare experience. I'm looking forward to helping spread the message and the video so everyone can celebrate the heroism of these amazing people."
Freirich is an active philanthropist who loves the convergence of music and the opportunity to help others. "Healthcare Workers Rock!" is on Freirich's new record label, Better World Records, LLC, also home to his new band, Random Acts of Kindness. From his position as CEO of Health Monitor Network, the largest patient education/engagement company in the United States, known for its exam room digital posters, Freirich has a unique perspective on the plight of healthcare workers, while his passion for music provides a creative way to honor them.

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (screengrab)
"Working 'round the clock, strong and courageous, never gonna stop," part of the chorus belts out with lyrics that embody Freirich's vision for the song. He was inspired to write and produce the track after seeing medical professionals in desperate need of resources and watching colleagues' family members pass away from COVID-19. From his position as CEO of Health Monitor Network, Freirich understands the monumental change in the hospital setting since COVID-19 and wanted to reinforce how everyone supports our healthcare workers.
"I want to have the song played all over the world to give healthcare workers something to rally around as they continue to work through difficult days and nights and the reactions I've received so far have been incredibly moving," says Freirich. He notes how he's heard from the healthcare community how relatable the lyrics are and how they have uplifted them at a time when they need all the support they can get. ­ "The song's pre-chorus lyrics, 'This is what we do, day in and day out,' are for the selfless healthcare workers who are out there working and giving everything they've got to their patients. I wanted to deliver an anthem for them that was empowering and uplifting."

The Video:

The Lyrics:

©2020 Better World Records.

We are on the frontline
Putting ourselves in danger
Trying to save the lives
Of oh so many strangers
Don’t look at them as numbers
That’s not what you mean to us
We’re brothers, sisters, mothers
Like family, it’s all worth the fuss

This is what we do
Day in and day out
This is what we do
And we just wanna shout

Healthcare Workers Rock!
Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win
Let’s Rock!

Never seen a thing like this
In my whole career
The battle’s really tough
Feels like more than a year
Supplies are getting short
Still we try to make the best
One day at a time
‘Cause we can never rest

This is what we do
Day in and day out
This is what we do
And we just wanna shout

Healthcare Workers Rock!
Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win

It’s time we all remember
The real heroes are at home
Our partners, daughters and sons
We miss each and every one

The world needs us now
So we are standing strong
Putting patients first
All day and all night long
We will make it through
One way or the other
Stay true to the cause
Caring for one another

This is what we do
Day in and day out
This is what we do
And we just wanna shout

Healthcare Workers Rock!
Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win

Working ‘round the clock
Strong and courageous, never gonna stop
Won’t give up, won’t give in
Cause we have got to win
Let’s Rock!

People can download the song on Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes and view the video at HealthcareWorkersRock.org. Freirich, CEO of Health Monitor Network, has been on a global crusade to help healthcare workers. 

  • Every time the video is shared from the Random Acts of Kindness  Facebook or Twitter pages with #HealthcareWorkersRock, a donation of $1 will be made to #FirstRespondersFirst (up to $100,000).

About Healthcare Workers Rock!:

"Healthcare Workers Rock!" was written by Freirich, songwriter and drummer, and is his newest music / philanthropic initiative. Freirich is an active philanthropist who loves the convergence of music and the opportunity to help others. He felt a calling to write and produce a song that could fulfill an unmet need; a tribute and anthem for all of the frontline healthcare workers around the world who put their lives on the line each and every day to help others.

For the past five years, he has been in a band called MedROCK, a 501c3 organization that "brings the world together through music and makes it a better place through philanthropy." The band put on a benefit concert in Turks and Caicos to help buy instruments for a local school's music education program and has partnered with and raised money for Teen Cancer America, founded by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. Freirich also played a song on drums with The Who at a charity to benefit concert for Teen Cancer American and UCLA Health in Southern California last fall.

"#HealthcareWorkersRock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge
"Healthcare Workers Rock!" Song & Music Video Captures Spirit of Frontline Healthcare Workers Around the World Treating the Latest COVID-19 Surge (PRNewsfoto/Better World Records)

About Better World Records: 

Better World Records LLC was started to release incredible music across numerous genres, while having a positive impact on the world. The company will use its artists and music to bring people together and will incorporate its strong philanthropic beliefs to projects and initiatives to do good. Random Acts of Kindness is the first band on the label and is a collection of musicians (Random Acts) pulled together with the goal of having a positive impact on the world through music.

About #FirstRespondersFirst: 

#FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation, takes a whole human approach to addressing the needs of our frontline workers in order to support their ability to serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. #FirstRespondersFirst's fundraising call to action helps provide essential supplies, protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, and critical mental health support and resources to this demographically and socially diverse workforce, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond, through its implementing collaborators Americares, Bright Horizons, CORE Response, Direct Relief, Give An Hour, Global Health Corps, Hispanic Federation, IHG Hotels & Resorts, InnerHour, International Rescue Committee, Marriott International, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Black Nurses Association, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Omada Health, Osmosis, Pivot, The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, World Central Kitchen, and You Okay, Doc?. Powered by Thrive Global's behavior change platform, #FirstRespondersFirst also provides access to Harvard Chan School's evidence-based content, specifically tailored to this critical workforce, to help improve the physical and mental well-being of healthcare workers.

SOURCE: Better World Records

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