Faculty News

COVID-19 SPECIAL SERIES

In March 2020, we saw our everyday lives change as the emergence of the COVID-19 virus led to a global pandemic. Schools moved to online learning, businesses sent employees home to work, and restaurants closed. There were many questions about the dangers the virus posed, the way it was spreading, and when the pandemic would end.

Now, 18 months later, we have more answers — but also more questions: about what mitigation measures are most effective, how the SARS-CoV-2 has mutated, and the best way to safely emerge back into public spaces. 

Amid the surge of the delta variant, the vaccine and mask mandates that brought students back to classrooms and many employees back to the office, and the potential for more mitigation and prevention measures (such as vaccine boosters and drug therapies), experts from across the University of Michigan continue working to address the lingering concerns, answer pressing questions, and find the best solutions to further reduce the spread of the virus. 

In this special series of the Michigan Minds podcast, experts from across the university share their insights and expertise of where we are in the pandemic, transmission of the delta variant, necessity of masking after vaccination, booster shots of the vaccine, drug therapies to treat the virus, preventive measures for children under age 12, and what lies ahead in the coming months. Thought leaders from Michigan Medicine, Mott Children’s Hospital, the School of Public Health, U-M Medical School, the College of Pharmacy,  the Office of the Vice President for Research, and other units participated in this series. 

Tune in to each episode below to learn from the leaders and best in their fields.

KIDS, THE DELTA VARIANT, AND BACK TO SCHOOL

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many families have questions and concerns about sending their children back to school and are wondering how this academic year will differ from last year in regard to the virus.  Jon Zelner, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, says the biggest change from last year is the availability of vaccinations. He joined Michigan Minds to discuss what we know about the virus, the concerns the delta variant is causing, and the ability of schools to hold in-person classes safely.

MUTATION RATES AND MITIGATION MEASURES

How does the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutate? How have vaccines helped overcome challenges to controlling the virus? Michigan Medicine infectious disease specialist Adam Lauring, MD, PhD, to talk about RNA viruses, mutation rates, and mitigation measures.

BENEFITS OF A VACCINE BOOSTER SHOT FOR IMMUNOCOMPROMISED PATIENTS

Jonathan Golob, MD, PhD, joins Michigan Minds to review what being immunocompromised means, explain the challenges that people with weakened immune systems face, and describe the benefits of a third vaccine dose for this group.

DISCOVERY OF DRUG THERAPIES THAT KILL SARS-COV-2 IN CELLS

According to a new groundbreaking study from University of Michigan researchers, there are several drug contenders already in use for other treatments that could be the next therapy to reduce or kill SARS-CoV-2 infections. Assistant professor of internal medicine and of medicinal chemistry Jonathan Sexton, PhD, senior author on the study, joined Michigan Minds to explain the process of testing FDA-approved drugs, the findings and what they mean for treating the virus, and how drug therapies could help combat the epidemic.

THE ROLE THAT MASKS PLAY IN KEEPING COMMUNITIES SAFE

In this episode, Amanda Valyko, Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology at Michigan Medicine, discusses the delta variant, the reason for masks amongst people who are vaccinated, and tips for how people can analyze a situation to determine if they should wear a mask.

NAVIGATING BACK-TO-SCHOOL AMID THE DELTA SURGE

Alison Tribble, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, joins Michigan Minds to talk about students going back to school amid the surge of the delta variant, and how children in particular are affected by masking and vaccines. She also