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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Experts Study the Coronavirus and Respond to the Outbreak

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health faculty have been working to understand the coronavirus and respond to its spread through interviews with news media.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of  the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII), just returned from China where he has been advising the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Lipkin met with Dr. Zhong Nanshan, who discovered Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and is the lead advisor for the ongoing outbreak. The two worked together during the SARS outbreak.

“Our focus now is on developing diagnostic tests to determine who should be isolated, how long, and decisions about drugs and antibodies for reducing morbidity and mortality.”

In a medRxiv paper, Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, an infectious disease forecasting expert, presents an analysis of seasonal coronavirus infections. He found that a majority are asymptomatic; and only 4 percent of those experiencing an episode sought medical care. Dr. Shaman is working on a computer model to simulate the outbreak and estimate its epidemiological characteristics.

Resiliency of infrastructure is critical, notes Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director of ICAP. In Wuhan, labs are having a hard time keeping up with testing demand and hospital beds are in short supply. “Health systems are the linchpin. One weakness… dooms the response and jeopardizes people’s health and wellbeing.”

Risk of infection to New Yorkers is minimal, and there’s no need to panic, epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Morse told the WSJ. “Many are choosing to wear surgical masks, yet there is little high-quality research to gauge their effectiveness, and what’s out there isn’t conclusive.”

Xenophobia could be another side effect, Dr. Robert Fullilove, minority and community affairs associate dean, told NBC. “I am tempted to predict that xenophobia will rise in significance to precisely the degree to which our sources of information give us stuff to panic about.”

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