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Top immunologist on COVID-19: ‘Science is easy, practice is difficult.’ (12)
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Thank you, Professor Farzan. Professor Farzan, is there any other relevant topic that you would like to discuss? I, as a scientist, I’m struck by how efficient the scientific response is to COVID-19 coronavirus, and how well we understand what we should do. And still how slow it is to get from knowing what we should do, to being able to do it. And when I say “do it”, I mean, test it, and especially manufacturer [therapies and vaccines] to scale. So it’s an enormous frustration to know what most scientists who study this problem know. And at the same time, see that we’re still facing the problems that very straightforward and obvious solutions could solve. And with that, I sort of want to make the point that this particular COVID-19 coronavirus is especially easy virus to protect against. And it’s especially easy virus to vaccinate against. And its only problem is we’ve never seen the COVID-19 virus before. And so I hope in the future that we can think of ways of accelerating the testing and manufacturing of therapies, as we face other problems like this. So we learn this lesson, and scale up our national and international ability to produce therapies and vaccines, and thereby translate what scientists essentially already know into something that’s actually useful. I had a discussion with Professor David Jones, Professor of the Culture of Medicine at Harvard University. We discussed that society tolerates enormous additional capacity in a military complex, but somehow medicine operates on a razor-thin margin. Even though, as we can see now, the impact of the viral pandemic is huge, including on the armed forces as we now see with the ships in the United States and France, and in many other areas. So I think that’s an excellent point. It is very obvious to all of us now that the infectious disease are as much a threat to our economy and our security as anything can be. And it’s also certainly the case that in the initial phase of COVID-19, at least, everybody focused on ventilators. It was, I think, the most commonly used word – like ventilators were a panacea or immediate cure. Whereas we know now that people who have to be on artificial lung ventilation, the death rate is 60 to 80%, probably less so in younger people. Nevertheless, we have to focus on the ability to scale up quickly the medical treatments that are effective in infections and the ability to have an excess capacity to produce them at scale fast, as you mentioned in our conversation. I could not agree more. Professor Farzan, thank you very much for this most informative, most timely conversation. We’re very much appreciate it, and we hope to come back to you as the situation develops, as hopefully soon new medications against COVID-19 and the vaccine will be successfully introduced to people around the world. Thank you very much! Thank you, appreciate it.