The first panel of "The COVID-19 Playlist" comic. Courtesy of Dr. Grace Farris.

Art made by health care workers offers a rare look — through very personal lenses — at how the fight against coronavirus is unfolding in hospitals.

Why it matters: These can be the best glimpses of what happens behind hospital doors because patient privacy issues make it difficult for journalists to capture what is happening on the front lines.

What they're saying: Dr. Grace Farris is a hospitalist at Mount Sinai, and she's also a cartoonist. One of her recent cartoons, which ran on NPR's site, shows how hospitals around New York are using songs like U2's "Beautiful Day" to "sing patients home" when they were discharged.

  • "I have gotten a lot of messages from people saying that they loved this idea that they're playing songs," Dr. Farris tells Axios.
  • Dr. Shirlene Obuobi, a second year internal medicine resident in Chicago and a cartoonist, has been treating patients with coronavirus. She says, "I do have a viewpoint that is different and valuable right now and I want people to see this from a human perspective and not from a statistics perspective."
  • Dr. Sophie Chung is a surgery intern at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She volunteered to work with COVID-19 patients and following her very first shift, she was moved to illustrate the protective gear she helped her colleague don, which she described as "a hood reminiscent of a medieval knight.”

Between the lines: Tensions between optimism and tragedy, and between dark humor and seriousness, run through many of these comics.

  • "I wanted to remember how it felt to have that [music] alternating with overhead announcements where you realize that someone's about to die," Dr. Farris says.

The bottom line: The images shared by doctors like Dr. Farris, Dr. Obuobi, Dr. Chung, and also Dr. Mike Natter, and Dr. Nathan Gray, help make visible the work they are doing.

  • I've been thinking a lot about how I want to reflect on [these experiences] and I don't want to forget them," Farris says. "So I think of these as mostly for reflection, and for bearing witness."
Courtesy of Dr. Grace Farris
Courtesy of Dr. Grace Farris
Courtesy of Dr. Shirlene Obuobi
Courtesy of Dr. Shirlene Obuobi
Courtesy of Dr. Sophie Chung

Go deeper

Aug 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: The Trump-Navarro mind meld on the FDA

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Why it matters: Five days after Navarro's private comments toward the FDA, the president echoed Navarro's sentiments with a pair of Saturday morning tweets and tagged Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration.

Updated Aug 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

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Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The FDA announced Sunday it will grant an emergency use authorization (EUA) of convalescent plasma as a treatment for the coronavirus, one day after President Trump accused the agency of slow-walking the development of vaccines and therapeutics to hurt him politically.

The state of play: The authorization for plasma, which is safe but not yet proven to work on COVID-19, had been on hold after federal health officials intervened with the FDA last week and argued that the current data on the effectiveness of the treatment was too weak, the New York Times reported.

Aug 24, 2020 - Health

Americans want high-risk people to get a coronavirus vaccine first

Data: The Harris Poll; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

If the U.S. is the first country to develop a coronavirus vaccine, most Americans don't want to share it right away with the rest of the world — but they're OK putting high-risk people at the front of the line within the U.S., according to a new Harris poll shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: Whenever the first vaccine comes, there won't be enough to go around. Experts say both of those tiers of rationing — divvying up the available doses internationally, and then a risk-based system to decide who gets it first within each country — will be necessary.