The MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta hosted a timely panel discussion with experts in antiviral vaccine development. The free virtual event was attended by professionals, both within and outside of the technology sector, who came to hear these experts discuss the facts about COVID-19 and solutions currently being developed.
Panelists included Farshad Guirakhoo, PhD (Chief Scientific Officer of of GeoVax Labs, Inc.), David Perryman (COO and Chief Intellectual Property Officer for Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE)), and Rama Rao Amara, PhD (Professor, Emory Vaccine Center).
The discussion was led by Gayathri Srinivasan, Executive Director for the Emory Office of Corporate Relations, and focused on answering some of the questions surrounding the threat presented by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, and the steps being taken by experts worldwide to contain the outbreak.
The expert panel discussed what the coronavirus is, what makes it different from other illnesses the public has faced, and what antiviral treatments are being used.
David Perryman discussed the oral drug being developed at Emory, which he hopes will provide advantages over the currently-available intravenous treatments, including faster treatment with less risk to those administering the treatment.
Regarding individuals who test negative for coronavirus, Rama explained that one possibility is that coronavirus can be present in various systems and fluids within the body, so it is possible that the virus is simply not present in the fluid that was tested for that individual. In addition, Farshad noted that the numerous tests have varied sensitivities, which can lead to false positives or false negatives, which can in turn skew testing data that we are trying to analyze.
When asked when they would be comfortable going back to work, Farshad and Rama confessed they are still going to work, but taking wearing masks as needed, cleaning shopping carts when they must go shopping, and keeping their distance. Although he has been able to shelter in place, David has been concerned by the number of people he sees getting too close to one another without taking precautions. He acknowledged there is a risk-benefit analysis with staying home, but he feels the longer we can all stay home, the better off we’ll be.
However, all of the panelists agreed that people should take the precautions needed to stay safe, even if those around them are failing to take those precautions.
Watch the full presentation HERE.