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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Columbia: School Experts Respond to the Coronavirus Outbreak

Faculty experts at Columbia Mailman School have been working to understand and respond to its spread. Through numerous interviews with news media, they have informed the public and quelled fears.

Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia Mailman School, returned from China where he has been advising the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and preparing a formal report for the government. He was in Guangzhou and Bejing and spoke with health officials who have worked on the outbreak in Wuhan. (He himself couldn’t visit Wuhan due to U.S. travel restrictions.) Among those Lipkin met with was Zhong Nanshan, an epidemiologist and pulmonologist who discovered SARS in 2003 and is now the lead advisor for the ongoing outbreak. The two men worked together during the SARS outbreak.

“Most of our focus now is on developing diagnostic tests that can be used to determine who should be isolated, how long they should be isolated, and decisions about drugs and antibodies that can be used even now to reduce morbidity and mortality,” Lipkin told Chinese television in an interview at the Columbia Global Center in Beijing.

The resiliency of clinical and public health infrastructure is also critical. Fast-moving outbreaks invariably stress health systems at every level. As the outbreak spreads to less-developed countries, their public health experts are concerned that their health systems will be less able to treat patients and prevent the outbreak’s spread. “Health systems are the linchpin,” says Wafaa El-Sadr, director of ICAP at Columbia. “Attention must be given to every element in the health system. One weakness in these interrelated components, whether locally or globally, dooms the response and jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of people.”

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Sample of key recent faculty interviews with the media:

THE NEW YORK TIMES
Why Is Data on Coronavirus So Limited?

THE NEW YORKER
A Local Guide To The Coronavirus

THE WASHINGTON POST
The Olympics Are the Perfect Way to Spread a Virus, But a Decision on the Tokyo Games Can Wait

THE NEW YORK TIMES
Worried About Coronavirus on the Subway? Here’s What We Know, 2020

THE WASHINGTON POST
How bad will the coronavirus outbreak get in the U.S.?

PBS NewsHour
Will COVID-19 will ruin your travel plans? Follow these 3 tips

XINHUA NEWS
Interview: Strong, Resilient Public Health Systems Vital to Combating Global Epidemics, Says U.S. Expert

CNBC
We have to prevent people from getting the illness, not wait till they’re really sick: Expert