Here’s some reassuring news for you. Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease specialist and investigator at the University of British Columbia Children’s Hospital, was invited to attend a World Health Organization (WHO) forum on how to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
What he came back with from WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland was three priorities which he shared on the UBC web site – one of which is for them to figure out exactly what the heck the coronavirus actually is. Like I said, reassuring.
I serve as the co-chair of the WHO’s clinical research theme, responsible for refining and implementing a number of priorities related to clinical management of the outbreak.
Our priorities are three-fold. First, we are looking to describe the disease better. This may sound fairly rudimentary, but we really don’t know what this disease is, what causes it, who gets sick and why an individual may become sicker.
Secondly, we’ll be seeking to better understand how to improve outcomes when a person becomes infected.
Thirdly, we’ll be looking to determine what measurements we should be using to determine when someone is better – in other words, what are the outcomes that are important for patients who are infected?
We do know one thing that the coronavirus definitely is not: it’s not related to beer.
What we do not know, apparently, is, at least according to Dr. Murthy, just about everything else.
“A number of research areas or themes — ranging from vaccine biology and development to infection prevention and control through to the social sciences — were prioritized at the forum,” Murthy stated. “These top priorities are now driving the funding agenda so that the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be well-coordinated and driven by scientific needs.”
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