Author Archives: Karen DeSalvo, MD, M.P.H.

How you’ll find accurate and timely information on COVID-19 vaccines

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, teams across Google have worked to provide quality information and resources to help keep people safe, and to provide public health, scientists and medical professionals with tools to combat the pandemic. We’ve launched more than 200 new products, features and initiatives—including the Exposure Notification API to assist contact tracing—and have pledged over $1 billion to assist our users, customers and partners around the world. 

As the world turns its focus to the deployment of vaccines, the type of information people need will evolve. Communities will be vaccinated at an unprecedented pace and scale. This will require sharing information to educate the public, including addressing vaccine misperceptions and hesitance, and helping to surface official guidance to people on when, where and how to get vaccinated. 

Today, we’re sharing about how we’re working to meet these needs—through our products and partnering with health authorities—while keeping harmful misinformation off our platforms. 

Raising authoritative information

Beginning in the United Kingdom, we’re launching a new feature on Search so when people look up information for COVID-19 vaccines, we will surface a list of authorized vaccines in their location, as well as information panels on each individual vaccine. As other health authorities begin authorizing vaccines, we’ll introduce this new feature in more countries.

Vaccine information on Google Search

Launched in March, our COVID-19 information panels on YouTube have been viewed 400 billion times, making them an important source of authoritative information. These panels are featured on the YouTube homepage, and on videos and in search results about the pandemic. Updates to the panels will connect people directly to vaccine information from global and local health authorities. Because YouTube creators are a trusted voice within their communities, we’re also supporting creators by connecting them with leading health experts to make helpful and engaging content for their audiences about COVID-19 and vaccines. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve given $250 million in Ad Grants to help more than 100 government agencies around the world run critical public service announcements about COVID-19. Grantees can use these funds throughout 2021, including for vaccine education and outreach campaigns, and we’re announcing today an additional $15 million in Ad Grants to the World Health Organization (WHO) to assist their global campaign.

Supporting quality reporting and information on vaccines

Journalism continues to play a crucial role in informing people about the pandemic, sharing expert knowledge about vaccines, and proactively debunking misinformation about the immunization process. In April, we gave $6.5 million to support COVID-19 related fact-checking initiatives, which have provided training or resources to nearly 10,000 reporters around the world.

Now, the Google News Initiative is providing an additional $1.5 million to fund the creation of a COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub and support new fact-checking research. Led by the Australian Science Media Centre, and with support from technology non-profit Meedan, the hub will be a resource for journalists, providing around-the-clock access to scientific expertise and research updates. The initiative includes science media centers and public health experts from Latin America, Africa, Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region, with content being made available in seven languages. 

To better understand what type of fact-checking can effectively counteract misinformation about vaccines, we’re funding research by academics at Columbia, George Washington and Ohio State universities. This research project will survey citizens in ten countries to find out what kinds of formats, headlines and sources are most effective in correcting COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and whether fact checks that follow these best practices impact willingness to get vaccinated.

Protecting our platforms against misinformation 

Across our products, we’ve had long-standing policies prohibiting harmful and misleading medical or health-related content. When COVID-19 hit, our global Trust and Safety team worked to stop a variety of abuses stemming from the pandemic: phishing attempts, malware, dangerous conspiracy theories, and fraud schemes. Our teams have also been planning for new threats and abuse patterns related specifically to COVID-19 vaccines. For example, in October, we expanded our COVID-19 medical misinformation policy on YouTube to remove content about vaccines that contradicts consensus from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control or the WHO. Our teams have removed more than 700,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 medical information. We also continue to remove harmful COVID-19 misinformation across other products like Ads, Google Maps, and the Play store.

The fight against the pandemic and the development of new vaccines has required global collaboration between the public health sector, and the scientific and medical communities. As work begins to vaccinate billions of people, we’ll support these efforts with additional products and features to ensure people have the right information at the right time. 

Cómo estoy dando gracias (y manteniéndome a salvo) este Día de Acción de Gracias

Read this post in English // Blog en inglés aquí.

Amo el Día de Acción de Gracias. Es un momento para estar con tus seres queridos, comer comida fabulosa y compartir recuerdos. En mi familia, mi madre siempre hizo del día festivo un momento en el que recibíamos en nuestra casa a personas que no tenían ningún otro lugar adónde ir ese día. Y luego dábamos largas caminatas por la tarde después de nuestra gran cena.  

Con las infecciones por COVID-19 aumentando a niveles récord en los Estados Unidos, las familias están cambiando la forma en que celebran el Día de Acción de Gracias este año. Como muchas otras cosas en 2020, tendremos que desarrollar tradiciones nuevas y creativas para reemplazar las que ponen a quienes amamos en riesgo de COVID. 

Este año, sigue los consejos de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades y evita las grandes reuniones familiares.

Esta enfermedad es muy contagiosa y reunirse físicamente con la familia extendida es un riesgo real. Cada evento que reúne a personas crea una nueva oportunidad de transmisión. A menudo me preguntan: "¿No puedo hacerme una prueba de COVID y luego ver a mi familia?" Desafortunadamente, la respuesta que le doy a mis amigos y familiares es un "No" inequívoco. Las pruebas suelen ser negativas en las primeras etapas del curso de la enfermedad, lo que significa que puede dar negativo hoy pero ser muy infeccioso mañana. Entonces, incluso si tienes una prueba negativa, practica aún estas medidas. La mejor manera de demostrar tu amor es no tener una gran reunión familiar.

Hay muchas formas de celebrar a distancia. Puedes realizar videollamadas con amigos y familiares desde la mesa de Acción de Gracias. Podrías pasar tiempo en persona al aire libre a distancia, usando máscaras y evitando compartir platillos. Incluso he oído hablar de algunas familias que se han vuelto creativas al ofrecer "recoger en la acera" su emblemático pastel de calabaza, cazuela de ejotes o aderezo de ostras para que los seres queridos lo recojan y disfruten en la seguridad de sus propios hogares.


Consejos para celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracias de forma segura

Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades han compartido algunos consejos sobre cómo celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracias este año y limitar la propagación del COVID-19.


  • Usa mascarilla

  • Reconsidera viajes

  • Mantén las reuniones pequeñas

  • Celebra virtualmente si puedes


Este año, mi familia inmediata está planeando una pequeña comida en nuestro hogar seguida de una breve visita al aire libre a nuestra abuela. También tendremos un Friendsgiving virtual con amigos de todo el país, que en realidad nos permite compartir recuerdos con más personas de las que solemos compartir. Extrañaré las comidas, los abrazos y las risas en persona, pero estoy dispuesta a sacrificar eso por este año para que podamos tener muchos más recuerdos juntos en los próximos años.   

Aunque este ha sido un año difícil para muchos en todo el mundo, se que tengo mucho que agradecer por estos días festivos. Estoy agradecida por mis colegas médicos: los médicos, enfermeras, técnicos en terapia pulmonar y otros socorristas que trabajarán en el Día de Acción de Gracias para atender a los pacientes con COVID-19. Estoy agradecida por mis colegas de salud pública que han trabajado incansablemente durante casi un año para mantenernos a salvo, como lo hacen incluso cuando las pandemias no están en auge. 

Estoy agradecida por los muchos socorristas no reconocidos que trabajan para asegurarse de que tengamos agua potable para beber, alimentos y electricidad para iluminar y calentar nuestros hogares. Estoy particularmente agradecido por los científicos comprometidos que han avanzado en investigaciones sólidas para que tengamos tratamientos eficaces y seguros, y sí, vacunas contra COVID a la vista. Nos están dando tanto optimismo sobre el potencial de contramedidas sólidas para poner fin a esta pandemia.

Y estoy agradecida por todos los que ponen la salud pública como una prioridad y hacen todo lo posible para NO ser un eslabón en la cadena de transmisión del COVID. Sé que todos están cansados ​​y quieren volver a la normalidad, o al menos a una nueva normalidad. Pero animo a todos a que sean pacientes y busquen dentro de sí la resistencia que nos ayude a superar estos próximos meses. Ahora no es el momento de ceder, es el momento de redoblar. Si el progreso científico continúa, entonces para esta temporada el próximo año podríamos tener reuniones familiares con aquellos a quienes amamos.

Este Día de Acción de Gracias, veo que quedarse en casa es la mejor forma de agradecer y mostrar amor a tu familia.
Este Día de Acción de Gracias, veo que quedarse en casa es la mejor forma de agradecer y mostrar amor a tu familia. Así que espero que te unas a mí para seguir los consejos de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades. Son lo que recomiendo a familiares y amigos, lo que recomendaría a mis pacientes y lo que le estoy pidiendo a nuestra comunidad. Este año, demos gracias. No COVID.

How I’m giving thanks (and staying safe) this Thanksgiving

Read this post in Spanish.

I love Thanksgiving. It’s a time to be with those you love, eating fabulous food and sharing memories. In my family, my mother always made the holiday a time when we welcomed people into our home who had nowhere else to go that day. And then we’d take long afternoon walks after our big meal.  

With COVID-19 infections rising to record levels across the U.S, families are changing how they celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Like much else in 2020, we’ll need to develop new and creative traditions to replace the ones that put those we love at risk for COVID. 

This year, please follow the tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and avoid large family gatherings.

This disease is highly contagious and getting together physically with extended family is a real risk. Every event that brings people together creates yet another chance for transmission. I’m often asked, “Can’t I just get a COVID test and then see my family?” Unfortunately, the answer I give my friends and family is an unequivocal “No.” Tests are often negative early in the course of disease, which means you can test negative today but be highly infectious tomorrow. So even if you have a negative test, still practice these measures. The best way to show your love is to not have a big family gathering.

There are many ways to celebrate from a distance. You can video call friends and family from the Thanksgiving table. You could spend in-person time outdoors at a distance, wearing masks and avoiding shared dishes. I have even heard of some families even getting creative offering “curbside pickup” of their signature pumpkin pie, green bean casserole or oyster dressing for loved ones to pick up and enjoy in the safety of their own homes.


Tips for celebrating Thanksgiving safely

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shared some tips on how you could celebrate Thanksgiving this year and limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask

  • Rethink traveling

  • Keep gatherings small

  • Celebrate virtually if you can


This year, my immediate family is planning a small meal with just our household followed by a brief, outdoor visit with our grandmother. We will also have a virtual Friendsgiving with friends across the country, which is actually allowing us to share memories with more people than we usually do. I will miss the meals, hugs and in-person laughter, but am willing to sacrifice that for this one year so we can have many more memories together in years to come.   

Though this has been a difficult year for so many around the world, I find I have much to be grateful for this holiday. I am thankful for my medical colleagues—the doctors, nurses, respiratory techs and other responders who are going to work on Thanksgiving to care for COVID-19 patients. I am thankful for my public health colleagues who have worked tirelessly for nearly a year to keep us safe, as they do even when pandemics aren’t raging.

I am thankful for the many unsung first responders working to see that we have safe water to drink, food to eat and electricity to light and heat our homes. I am particularly thankful for the committed scientists who have advanced sound research so we have efficacious and safe treatments, and yes, COVID vaccines in sight. They are giving us so much optimism about the potential for robust countermeasures to bring this pandemic to an end.

And I am thankful for everyone who is putting the public’s health as a priority, and doing all they can to not be a link in the chain of COVID transmission. I know everyone is weary and wants to go back to normal, or at least a new normal. But I encourage everyone to be patient and dig deep inside for the stamina to carry us through these next few months. Now is not the time to let up—it is a time to double down. If scientific progress continues, then by this time next year we might be able to have family gatherings with those we love.

This Thanksgiving, I see staying home as the ultimate form of giving thanks and showing love to your family.
This Thanksgiving, I see staying home as the ultimate form of giving thanks and showing love to your family. So I hope you will join me in following the tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are what I am recommending to family and friends, what I would recommend to my patients and what I am asking of our community. This year, let’s give thanks. Not COVID.

Support for public health workers fighting COVID-19

This week, we're beginning a series of Doodles to recognize the many people responding to COVID-19—from doctors and nurses caring for people on the front lines, to teachers and food service workers ensuring essential goods and services are still available. Coinciding with the start of National Public Health Week in the U.S., our first Doodle in the series shines a light on the public health workers who are at the forefront of fighting this disease.  

Public health is what we do together as a society to create the conditions in which everyone can be healthy. Public health workers include leaders at organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as scientists, like epidemiologists, field researchers, and lab scientists and technicians working to better understand the virus, find new cases, and track and predict and prevent its spread. 


Community education and access to reliable information are critical parts of promoting and protecting public health. Over the last few months we’ve partnered with WHO, Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) and national health ministries to surface authoritative information on COVID-19. On Search, people can find official information on how to prevent COVID-19 transmission, with links to helpful resources from health authorities. On YouTube, we have a dedicated news shelf with COVID-19 news from authoritative sources, curated playlists with official information, and we’ve connected popular YouTube creators with public health leaders. We’ve also launched #StayHome #WithMe, a campaign that encourages people to practice social distancing with playlists on education, cooking, fitness and more. 


Beyond this education effort, we’re proud to support the important work public health workers are doing behind the scenes to learn more about the virus, develop and deploy vaccines, and create evidence-based policy intended to reduce community transmission.


Scientists are critical to understanding and combating COVID-19. We’re supporting their work by providing Google Cloud research credits, including high performance computing to researchers. On Google Cloud’s Kaggle data science community, a coalition of leading research groups have gathered more than 44,000 COVID-19-related scholarly articles to share with data scientists.  


To aid researchers, data scientists, and analysts, we’ve also made available a hosted repository of public datasets, like Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the Global Health Data from the World Bank, and OpenStreetMap data, free to access and query through our COVID-19 Public Dataset Program.


Just last week we published an early release of our COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports: aggregated, anonymized data on movement trends across places such as retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, to give public health workers insights to make more data driven policy. These reports are designed to inform public health officials as they implement and refine social distancing measures designed to prevent the spread of the virus, while protecting essential movement. 


Today we salute public health workers who are playing an important role in responding to this pandemic. Over the next two weeks, our Doodles will honor other essential frontline workers, including healthcare workers, first responders and the many people keeping services like sanitation, food service, public transit, schools, and more up and running. Thank you to all the people who are working to save lives and keep communities safe during this pandemic.