As I type this, the Virginia Department of Health has confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the Charlottesville area. So I thought I might give you a quick update on coronavirus projects here at UVA.
Our Bill Petri, MD, and Peter Kasson, PhD, are working to develop a vaccine. They don’t expect it will be the first vaccine for COVID-19 – lots of people are now working very urgently to develop vaccines – but they hope theirs will be very effective. The idea is that subsequent vaccine iterations can improve on the first vaccine that makes it to market. So rather than focusing on the fastest possible turnaround, Dr. Petri and Professor Kasson aiming for maximum effectiveness.
In addition, we have folks here at UVA developing our own diagnostic test for COVID-19. I’m sure you’ve seen news stories about the availability of testing, so I won’t rehash that here. But we hope to have our own available in the near future.
In addition, our hospital has been planning and preparing extensively, and for a long time. We are following guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and working closely with the Virginia Department of Health. We have many people working on this and have been treating it with the seriousness it deserves. You should too.
Remember, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. The best advice remains to wash your hands often and thoroughly – for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face. If you must cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or sleeve, and not into your hand.
If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 or may be infected, make sure to call your healthcare provider before seeking treatment. And please keep up with the latest guidance from the CDC and your state health department. Things are evolving quickly, and we’ll see the best outcomes if we all pull together.