The COVID-19 virus is certainly not the first pandemic in history... in fact, infectious diseases have been a constant throughout time. Even though we faced the AH1N1 outbreak back in 2009, we had never experienced the consequences of a virus in the ways we have in the past months. In this first episode, Dr, Rosie Sendher and Makenna Rice sits down with Dr. Stuart Cohen to synthesize the current COVID-19 health crisis.

Dr. Cohen is the chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at UC Davis Health. He specializes in clinical infectious diseases and infection control in the hospital environment. He is passionate about microbiology and uses humor and compassion as methods in his practice every day. 

This episode contains relevant information about the virus and answers to much more specific questions surrounding it. From its spreading route to the future vaccine, here is everything you need to know about the virus, broken down by Dr. Cohen. Listen now to learn in detail about the current coronavirus outbreak, its impact on patients and the efforts of the medical community to come up with a cure.

In this episode we chat about:

  • (02:14) - Dr. Cohen’s particular role in and around the current pandemic — “I’ve been asked to limit my clinical duties right now to focus on planning how to make our healthcare environment safe.”
  • (04:02) - On both the studied and unknown biological features of COVID-19 — “Coronaviruses circulate every year. There are a number of human coronaviruses but they’re in a different class.”
  • (07:28) - How is COVID-19 truly transmitted? — “There are handfuls of studies in hospitals that really point to the fact that droplet and contact are the primary routes.”
  • (11:20) - On COVID-19’s incubation period and symptoms — “The majority of people start having symptoms at day four or day five.” 
  • (14:33) - The unique symptoms that distinguish COVID-19 from other viruses - “This started while it was still flu season, so trying to differentiate it from another respiratory virus was very difficult.”
  • (17:17) - The mystery surrounding the immune system’s behavior when attacked by COVID-19 — “The question of how much disease is caused by the virus itself, versus how much is caused by the immune system is not entirely clear.”
  • (22:00) - On the health factors that can aggravate the illness — “If somebody has an underlying heart problem they’re going to be at a higher risk for severe disease.”
  • (25:20) - His perspective on the virus’ variations throughout the globe — “Most of the virus in the United States seems to have come from Europe.”
  • (28:38) - Why children aren’t usually affected by COVID-19 — “For most illnesses, particularly most viral illnesses, kids tolerate them better than adults.”
  • (30:17) - On the global efforts around antiviral therapy — “Antiviral drugs do work. Is this the final answer? I think not.”
  • (39:16) - The promise of a vaccine and the future ahead — “Vaccine development as everyone knows is tricky.”
  • (42:07) - Why the creation of a pan-coronavirus vaccine is unlikely — “These things are closely related but they are not the same. Coming up with a family vaccine is probably going to be a difficult thing.”
  • (44:15) - The testing: its availability, the existing methods and the innovative ways of diagnosing COVID-19 — “At the beginning of the pandemic, in the United States we did not have adequate testing.”
  • (54:35) - His hypothesis behind re-infections and the response of patients’ immune systems — “I do think we can develop an effective immune response.”

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