In the inaugural edition of the weekly online program Virtual Face to Face with Dr. Bruce Jarrell, two infectious disease and vaccine experts from the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) shared insights and allowed audience members to ask questions.
“Our plan is to have a series of seminars over the next several weeks to provide you with information, knowledge, and other types of pieces of information for you to think about the COVID pandemic, and ways to think about it and know what's in store for the future,” said the program's host, UMB Interim President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS.
The hourlong event addressed a wide range of topics, from the rich history of CVD to the regulatory framework needed to quickly implement a global vaccine to the current concern about the disparate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities.
“One of the problems that's occurred now, why it's taking a little longer for coronavirus vaccines to take off the ground, is we're having to start kind of at the beginning,” said James D. Campbell, MD, MS, UMSOM professor and chief of the pediatric clinical trials program at CVD. “One of the reasons for that is that SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] and MERS [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome], when those came out everyone was very worried about them, lots of vaccine activity went on, and then without having a vaccine they didn't cause as much of a problem as we thought. All of that energy went away and the vaccines did not get far enough along in development for us to have them sitting out there ready to go where we could ... plug in the new SARS 2 platform.” SARS-CoV-2 is the clinical name of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
Halfway through the program, the focus turned to the audience, with questions mostly focused on predictions of the near future. M.J. Tooey, MLS, AHIP, FMLA, associate vice president and executive director, Health Sciences and Human Services Library, posed a question on everyone's mind: Will we experience a second wave of infection in the fall?
“For influenza, we know that when pandemics occur, they occur in waves. That second wave is about six months after the first wave. So for coronavirus, a lot of people are thinking that we might see a wave or a resurgent fall, as the question implied,” answered Wilbur H. Chen, MD, MS, UMSOM associate professor and chief of the adult clinical studies program at CVD. “Right now, we're in the spring. As it gets warmer, maybe the climate, the humidity changes so that these COVID infections actually die down a lot. But again, as the weather cools in the autumn time, and also when schools open up, too, and you have more people congregating in rooms, that you might have more opportunity for COVID resurgence.”
Chen, who also is a member of Gov. Larry Hogan's Coronavirus Response Team, added, “We're trying to be prepared for right now, through summer, but then even if we see a dying down over the summer, that does not mean that we will not see, we're trying to prepare for the eventuality of, a fall surge as well.”
You can watch the entire Virtual Face to Face with Dr. Bruce Jarrell program at the link below.