The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has lead to unprecedented public health efforts to manage and contain the spread of disease. Physicians, investigators, and public health experts from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine are combining their efforts, mobilizing resources, and developing tools to help save lives and prevent the spread of disease. From laboratories that are delving into the genetics and behavior of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, to the public health experts that are developing models to predict the disease’s spread, efforts to combat this unprecedented challenge are underway all across the medical school.


A team of Northwestern scientists have come together from across disciplines to develop a COVID-19 antibody test designed for at-home use. Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, is part of the team working on this test to determine prior exposure to the virus.

Although COVID-19 doesn't necessarily discriminate, some communities are far more susceptible to the disease. People who are black or African-American are more likely to contract the virus - and to die from it. Clyde Yancy, MD, discusses reasons for these outcomes and the need to fully address health care disparities in America.

While the world anxiously awaits a vaccine for COVID-19, some physicians on the front lines are trying new or repurposed therapies in an effort to help COVID patients. Benjamin Singer, MD, a Northwestern physician-scientist, discusses his experiences in the ICU during this time and his recently published letter warning against the use of unproven therapies.

This is an update to the Jan. 28, 2020 episode about Northwestern microbiologist Karla Satchell's effort to lead an investigation into the structure biology of the components of COVID-19. The goal is to ultimately understand how to stop it from replicating in human cells through a medication or vaccine.

Judith Moskowitz, PhD, MPH, is a social psychologist and professor of Medical Social Sciences at Feinberg who studies the impact of positive emotion on health-related and other life stress. She discusses her research and things you can do to increase positivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this episode we share a recent Northwestern Medical Grand Rounds presentation called: "COVID-19 An Update on the Current Situation" which was given at Northwestern Medicine on March 17, 2020 by Michael Ison, MD, professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at Northwestern.

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"From an ethics standpoint, you don't want to start studying a medication with vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women until you have proven safety and efficacy in the adult population," explained Dr. Larry Kociolek, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical director of infection prevention and control at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
Chicago Tribune

One of the site’s founders, Jaline Gerardin, said one goal was to offer residents Rt as a better way to gauge “how things are going” than the percentage of tests that come back positive, a commonly cited metric called the test positivity rate. Plus, she said, researchers wanted residents to get a better understanding of how the projections are made.
USA Today

For most of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been disagreement on every aspect of public health policies (e.g., universal lockdown, school reopenings). But there is near complete agreement that the path forward to end the pandemic is through rapid and mass vaccination to achieve herd immunity.

From a public health perspective, "testing is necessary in the short-term to be able to react quickly when cases are increasing and prevent or interrupt outbreaks whereas vaccinations are a prophylactic solution to prevent cases and end the pandemic," said Dr. Sadiya Khan, assistant professor of preventive medicine in epidemiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
NBC Chicago

“I think the decision to lower the age eligibility for the vaccine rollout is appropriate, particularly when we have significant concerns right now about community spread,” said Dr. Mercedes Carnethon with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Steve Brandy with the Will County Health Department said the county is trying to get more partners and medical providers involved to help distribute the vaccine.
The Washington Post

And scientists point out that this virus doesn’t mutate very fast. Although it’s possible that vaccines would need to be modified at some point to remain as effective as they have been so far, this virus is not supernaturally elusive. “It seems hard to see that this virus is going to be able to evolve its way away from vaccine efficacy,” said Egon Ozer, an infectious-diseases expert at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.
USA Today

Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said he expects the vaccines to become popular after an initial period of reluctance and even mistrust. “I think the rollout is going to be slower than they expect, for a couple of reasons,” Murphy said. “One, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people. And then, you have a cold-chain issue in delivering these vaccines. It’s not going to be an easy operation. I’m not as optimistic as other people. I think it will take the whole year to vaccinate everyone, at least.”

This is undoubtedly an issue on lots of people’s minds, so thank you. It’s also a complicated one, so I consulted two experts: Dr. Kelly Michelson, director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine.