May 2nd 2020 - Dr. Fred Buckhold, Dr. Sara George, Dr. Neil Anderson, & Father Tom Reese

Health Matters
Friday, May 1st
Dr. FRED BUCKHOLD, SLU Care general internist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  A new study predicts the coronavirus could continue to spread throughout the United States over the next 18-to-24 months -- or until a vaccine is found or herd immunity is achieved.  What is herd immunity?  Dr. Buckhold says it is reaching that point where there are more people immune to a disease than not -- maybe 60-70 percent of us -- and that greatly lowers the risk of infection spread.  Can we find a vaccine by January?  Dr. Fauci hopes so.  So does Dr. Buckhold -- but he says don't be disappointed if we cannot because vaccine research is so hard.  Is he worried about so many states starting to lift restrictions?  Why are so many people still getting sick after seven weeks of total shutdown? What are the long lasting effects of the Coronavirus?

Dr. SARA GEORGE, SLU Care infectious diseases specialist, vaccine researcher at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and lead investigator of the Remdesivir Trial underway at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  This SLU study is one of dozens worldwide testing how Remdesivir can help treat patients with COVID-19.  This randomized, blind study involved more than a thousand patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19.  Remdesivir lowered hospitalization time from 15 days to 11 days.  And lowered mortality rate from 11 to 8 percent.  Dr. Fauci says this will now be the standard of care for treating coronavirus patients.  Dr. George says they treated about 14 patients in the local study at SLU Hospital.

Dr. NEIL ANDERSON, assistant professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine and assistant medical director of the Barnes Jewish Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. What is antibody testing?  And what can it tell us?  Dr. Anderson says the FDA gave the green light to companies to produce antibody tests.  The problem, he says, is the tests do not need FDA approval for how good they are.  That's why he says you don't really know what you are getting when you buy an antibody test.  His team is testing antibody testing products now trying to assess their worth.  One big question with antibody testing is what do the antibodies mean?  Do they simply mean you had the virus?  Or if you had it, are you now immune to getting it again?  And if you are immune, how long does that immunity last?  

Father TOM REESE, senior analyst with Religion News Service.​  What will going to church, synagogue or mosque look like in the new COVID-19 world? Very different says Father Reese.  He says places of worship are hotbeds for illnesses -- with people in close proximity, hand shaking, and receiving communion. Father Reese says pastors will need to assess how many people can get into their church under separation guidelines.  Churches that seat 500 could maybe hold only 50 for each service.  Meaning many more services would be needed on the weekends.  And would you need tickets or reservations to attend?  Also, how could communion be done without touching of any kind?  Father Reese says it may come down to having the host placed in the pew before the start of church and after it is consecrated during the service, everyone could commune themselves -- without any touching by the priest.