The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to have originated in wild bats that live in caves around Wuhan, China. It also may have been passed to a second animal species before it began infecting people. Many devastating epidemics in recent years — including SARS, Ebola and HIV/AIDS — were caused by animal viruses that spilled over into people. Before another pandemic begins, a diverse group of infectious disease experts, ecologists, wildlife biologists and other experts say that a new, decentralized, global system of wildlife surveillance must be established to identify animal viruses in wild animals that have the potential to infect and sicken people. In this episode, Jennifer A. Philips, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine and co-director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Gideon Erkenswick, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate in Philips’ lab and director of Field Projects International, discuss what needs to happen to create an early-detection system for viruses with the potential to trigger the next pandemic. The podcast “Show Me the Science” is produced by the Office of Medical Public Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
In St. Louis, as in much of the United States, African Americans are more likely to test positive for COVID-19. They’re also more likely to be hospitalized, to end up in intensive care and to die of the infection. Further, protests that have erupted against police violence point to another stressor shouldered primarily by African Americans. In this episode, we discuss systemic racism — inside and outside the health-care system — and how the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled the issue to the forefront of our national consciousness. We speak with third-year medical student Kamaria Lee about her life as she studies to become a doctor during a time of massive protests and a pandemic. We also speak with Wenners Ballard III, MD. A hospitalist and an instructor in the Department of Medicine, he takes care of acutely ill patients in the hospital. These days, every one of his patients has been hospitalized for COVID-19. The majority also are people of color. The podcast “Show Me the Science” is produced by the Office of Medical Public Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Most of the country is relaxing guidelines put in place to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. But many questions arise about how to re-open safely. In this episode, we discuss making everyday life safer with Hilary M. Babcock, MD, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and medical director of the Infection Prevention and Epidemiology Consortium for BJC HealthCare. She says masks, physical distancing and good hand hygiene remain important. Another important aspect of opening safely involves testing to identify who has and who has had COVID-19. Antibody testing that might identify who already has been infected and might have some resistance to future infections was long viewed as something of a silver bullet, and as the country re-opens, many clinics now offer antibody testing. But it’s not clear if those tests will make us any safer. Neil W. Anderson, MD, an assistant professor of pathology and immunology in the Division of Laboratory and Genomic Medicine, and Christopher Farnsworth, PhD, an instructor of pathology and immunology, are directing the antibody testing effort in the laboratories at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. They say that the antibody tests may not be accurate enough to help make opening safer. The podcast, “Show Me the Science,” is produced by the Office of Medical Public Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
It seems almost every day brings a new finding about COVID-19, but still, relatively little is understood about the novel coronavirus, the disease it causes or how best to prevent and treat it. Scientific research takes time, but the lack of sound research hasn’t stopped some from filling in the gaps with their own theories about the origins of the virus, potential treatments, vaccines, the usefulness of masks and other matters. In this episode, we discuss some of the strange theories filling social media feeds and even climbing best-seller lists. David Wang, PhD, a professor of molecular microbiology, and of pathology and immunology, discusses the origins of the new coronavirus, as well as what can be learned from past outbreaks. In addition, Michael S. Kinch, PhD, associate vice chancellor and director of the Center for Research Innovation in Biotechnology and the Center for Drug Discovery, discusses fears, particularly fears and rumors often linked to vaccines. Also a professor of radiation oncology and of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, he authored the book “Between Hope and Fear,” about the history of vaccines in medicine. The podcast, “Show Me the Science,” is produced by the Office of Medical Public Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
More than 10 percent of those with serious COVID-19 infections have been frontline health-care workers. Now, an international group, led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is launching a trial to see whether the drug chloroquine might help those workers. The drug trail won’t treat doctors, nurses and others after they get sick. Instead, the health-care workers will take medication prophylactically, to see whether it might be worth adding low doses of chloroquine to other personal protective equipment, such as masks, gowns and gloves. Michael Avidan, MBBCh, the Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor and head of the Department of Anesthesiology, is leading the international study, which has sites in England, Ireland, Africa, Canada, and South America. The group is called the CROWN collaborative (COVID Research Outcomes World Network). With funding from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator — an initiative launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Wellcome, Mastercard and an array of public and philanthropic donors — the researchers want to learn whether low doses of chloroquine can keep healthcare workers from getting COVID-19 at all or, if they do get sick, whether treatment with the drug might lead to less severe symptoms.
The St. Louis region and most of the United States are under stay-at-home orders, meaning that aside from reporting to “essential” jobs that require attendance, and trips to the grocery store, drug store or other necessary errands, most people are spending more time at home than ever before. This week’s podcast features experts in maintaining one’s physical and mental health while isolated. Washington University public health sciences expert Graham Colditz, MD, DrPh, studies how small changes in behavior can have a big impact on health. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all of our lives, he has been writing about the need to stay home and maintain social distancing, as well as the potential pitfalls of ignoring those measures. This week, we also hear from Jessica Gold, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry, who works with college students and young adults. She says stress caused by the pandemic, combined with emotional and social implications of stay-at-home orders, contribute to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for many. Gold offers strategies that might help some people avoid those complications. The podcast, “Show Me the Science,” is produced by the Office of Medical Public Affairs at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.