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Dr. Gerald Parker - Creating The Coronavirus Vaccine: How To Fight & Defeat The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Associate Dean, Texas A&M Global One Health

Dr. Gerald Parker is the Associate Dean for Global One Health at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and in this role, he also serves as Campus Director for Global One Health at Texas A&M University.

He holds joint appointments at the Bush School of Government Service as Director of the Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program within the Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs and AgriLife Research as strategic advisor for the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases.

Parker is a member of several advisory boards, including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine standing committee on Health Threats and Workforce Resilience, Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee, and the Biodefense Blue Ribbon Panel.

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Join us, today, as we take a closer look at Dr Parker’s rundown of the virus’s progression, where we are with vaccines, and how to defeat the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Treatment: Looking Back

During his interview, Dr Parker discussed the progression of the virus up until this point. With more than 850,000 confirmed cases in the United States alone, one of the big questions right now is “When can we finally leave the house and go back to our normal lives?” And that applies to businesses as well.

It’s important, for the sake of the economy, that businesses reopen as soon as possible. But they have to be cautious, as the virus remains just as infectious as it’s ever been. “With a respiratory virus like this, it’s really just a matter of time until it travels the globe.” The idea, then, is to follow quarantine measures and only open when there are safety measures in place to prevent a resurgence of the virus. Ultimately, the country needs much more extensive testing before it can move forward with reopening.

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“We’ve been trying to slow the spread,” Dr Parker said. “Give ourselves more time to prepare.” He then went on to outline several key decisions during the recent containment phase:

  • lockdown and social distancing interventions
  • containment measures swapping out to mitigation
  • the implementation of vaccine measures

The decision to contain citizens within their homes may have been controversial, but it turned out to be completely necessary. “It could have been much worse”.

Dr Gerald Parker On Vaccines

Discussing future vaccines for human coronavirus, Dr Parker was optimistic but realistic. The immunology and science of the disease is still a challenge for the scientists scrambling to research it. But scientists have mobilised at an unprecedented rate.

At present, there are at least 70 different vaccine candidates in development, from concept through to clinical trials. Furthermore, five candidates have already entered phase one clinical trials, which is promising. Labs are putting unprecedented work into vaccines, from genomic sequencing to concept studies.

“Whether they work or not, time will tell. You can’t rush safety.”

Dr Parker did share some information viewers may not be thrilled to hear. Regarding a coronavirus vaccine timeline, he made a lengthy prediction of at least 24 months, “if everything works perfectly”. And, he noted, it’s seldom, if ever, that things work exactly according to plan.

Closing out, Parker noted that, while vaccines will help, they aren’t the only option right now. Some of the following measures will help to slow the spread of the virus and bring society back to normal, while we wait for a vaccine:

  • maintaining containment for as long as possible
  • further development of convalescent antibodies
  • increased lab testing

On The Spread Of Coronavirus, With Dr Gerald Parker

As the world remains locked down against COVID-19, it’s easy to feel like there’s no end in sight. Experts like Dr Parker show us that coronavirus treatment isn’t just a possibility. It’s literally in development as we speak.

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