“The fundamental principle of a testing desert is: you’re in a county and there’s not a single test site. … About 40% of rural counties in the United States are testing deserts.” – Dr. Sema Sgaier of the Surgo Foundation

Today I interviewed Dr. Sema Sgaier.

Dr. Sema Sgaier is Co-founder and Executive Director of Surgo Foundation, a privately funded action tank whose mission is to bring precision to solutions that save and improve lives by integrating behavioral science , data science, and artificial intelligence.  Previously at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she led large-scale health programs in India and Africa. She is faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the department of Global Health at the University of Washington. Her research interests include methodologies to understand human behavior, novel data systems and analytic approaches, and management practices to drive innovation within large-scale global health programs. She was selected as a Rising Talent by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society. She is on the board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Alumni Network. Sema has a PhD in neuroscience.

In this episode we speak about:

  • How a group of scientists created a tool called CCVI to help governments allocate money and resources for COVID.
  • Testing deserts: what they are and how 40% of rural counties qualify
  • The path from data to white paper in Congress to critical action
  • How you can use the CCVI tool to advocate for your community
  • What herd immunity is and why it’s not the answer for the COVID outbreak
  • COVID vaccines: Will they actually help?

Then Queens Marie comes up with a plan to get the CCVI in federal hands using toilet paper.

To catch up with our guest:

  • Twitter:
    • @SurgoFoundation
    • @SemaSgaier