Accelerating discoveries to prevent, diagnose and treat the COVID-19 virus
Moderator: Lene Andersen
Live from: San Francisco, California
Start time: 12:00 a.m. UTC
Physician and Neuroscientist, Divya Chander opens the session by explaining how scientists can test and track for the virus. She notes that until we develop a vaccine that is tested for ethics and safety – our primary concern is to stop the spread of the virus. The exponential curve of the virus has been taking off since mid-February. Beyond washing our hands, the most important preventative measure is physical distancing. Each day we do not practice physical distancing massively increases the rate of the virus’ expansion. Our healthcare capacity depends on our ability to physically distance. Chander ends by warning the audience that if we do not take the initiative on our own, the state will have to enforce physical distancing through more draconian measures.
Daniel Kraft M.D., Chair for Medicine, Singularity University, discusses how to rethink health and medicine during this challenging time. His talk highlights many interesting solutions for how to democratize and evolve our healthcare systems through new exponential technologies, new mindsets and new data systems. Check out digital.health to discover how new learnings are being crowdsourced around the world for the purpose of prevention, diagnostics, and therapy. Daniel notes that "we are not just organ donors or blood donors – but data donors. Through communities like Boma, we can do our part - sharing knowledge, support, and resources to defeat this pandemic."
Gastroneurologist, Brennan Spiegel, discusses a new and largely unspoken mode of viral spread: fecal-viral spread. The coverage about the respiratory spread of the virus is widely discussed, yet 54% of covid-19 patients have evidence of viral RNA in their stool. This may mean that the virus is infectious through human stool and toilet seats. Many patients of covid-19 have symptoms not only of fever, but of diarrhea. Academics, like Brennan, are working to share knowledge of this research area in real-time to uncover the truth of the matter.
Margaret Liu, M.D., notes that DNA vaccines can be rapidly made because all that is needed is knowledge of the sequence of the virus, which we have. There are currently 34 vaccines under development worldwide. Yet, a lot still remains to be unknown, including whether targeting spike proteins will work, whether antibodies will last long enough to be protected the duration of antibody response, and whether the immunity to the vaccine last long enough. On a positive note - it is now possible to start clinical testing before animal testing has been finished. These parallel studies will accelerate our development of the vaccine.
PhD Scripps Research, Arnab Chatterjee, discussed drug development, drug repurposing, and drug resistance through the lens of his work at Scripps Research and Calibr. Calibr has 5 different drugs in clinical development. Scripps Research works in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Calibr has 5 different drugs in clinical development. In order to expedite the process, a global hub has been established for drug discovery. By sharing drug data publicly and partnering with other research clinics, Arnab believes that we can democratize drug screening and biology and take positive strides against covid-19.
Larry Brilliant, M.D., chairman, Ending Pandemics, notes that every year, two or three novel viruses jump species from animal to humans - such as SARS, West Nile, Zika and many more. The fact that we are living in an age of pandemics is no surprise. Larry notes that combatting covid-19 is not a question of mitigation vs. containment/suppression. We need to do both in order to preserve our healthcare systems, flatten the curve, and slow the death rate. Yet, Larry is an optimist. Why? because he personally got to see the last case of smallpox come to an end.
Anousheh Ansari, CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation & Ravjeev Ronanki, Senior Vice President & Chief Digital Officer Anthem, launched the Pandemic Alliance Platform - an exciting effort to bring together their network, resources and data assets together for the purpose of preventing and detecting future pandemics.
Boma Co-Founders, Kaila Colbin and Lara Stein, finish off the event by noting that this event is a microcosm of what is happening around the world. With creativity, ingenuity, and heart - we are coming together and connecting as humans in new ways. As Kaila notes, "The world will look very different than before this crisis. But we will have more perspective on what is important to us."
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