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NYMC and Touro Host Eighth Symposium on COVID-19

New York Medical College (NYMC) and the Touro College and University System (TCUS) continued its series on COVID-19.

December 07, 2020
Eighth Symposium on COVID-19
Eighth Symposium on COVID-19

Alan Kadish, M.D., president of NYMC and TCUS, welcomed the audience saying, “There is great news on vaccines and concerning news about the fact that the number of cases continues to increase. We hope today’s educational program will help the public understand where we are and help us put measures in place to finally get this pandemic under control.”

The topics of the symposium were especially timely. Robert Amler, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice and vice president for government affairs who served as former regional health administrator for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and former medical epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spoke on the risk of family gatherings during the holidays and the challenges of asymptomatic transmission, imperfect testing, complacency, exposures in transit and susceptible family members. “We’re all in this together but we still need to stay apart,” he said.

Westchester County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, M.D., M.S., FAAP, clinical associate professor of pediatrics, adjunct professor of public health and senior fellow for the Center for Disaster Medicine, went on to describe the roles of governors and local health commissioners during the pandemic including emergency powers, executive orders, public health laws and the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization for vaccines and drugs.

The latest on a potential preventative nasal spray for COVID-19 was presented by Mill Etienne, M.D. ’02, M.P.H., FAAN, FAES, associate dean for student affairs and associate professor of neurology and of medicine. He described the nasal spray that blocks the absorption of SARS-CoV2 that is currently being tested in vivo.

An update on vaccine development and deployment was given by Kathleen DiCaprio, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical microbiology and immunology, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. She shared the latest on the top vaccine candidates, their efficacy studies, what is known about the short- and long-term effects of the vaccines and how long they will last.

Childhood development issues in the pandemic were addressed by Tami Hendriksz, D.O., professor and associate dean of academic affairs, Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine. She described the impact that mask-wearing may have on infants and young children including facial recognition skills, social interaction and speech recognition, as well as provided tips for overcoming these such as body language, exaggerated voice and eye gestures. She also described the impact of school closures on children including interrupted learning, poor nutrition, increased dropout rate, increased domestic violence and exploitation and social isolation.

Infectious disease specialist Marisa A. Montecalvo, M.D., director of student health services and professor of medicine, went on to describe the potential chronic sequelae, pathological conditions resulting from a prior disease, injury or attack of COVID-19, that may take the form of persistent infection but dormant, lingering symptoms, such as organ involvement resulting in chronic symptoms or immunologic sequelae of infection. While it is unknown if this may result in millions of Americans having a new pre-existing condition, Dr. Montecalvo stressed the importance of registries of patients to determine long-term sequelae.

Closing out the symposium was Neil Schluger, M.D., the Barbara and William Rosenthal Chair of the Department of Medicine, a co-author of a well-known study on the use of hydroxycholoroquine for treating COVID-19 published in The New England Journal of Medicine. He spoke on the proposed use of anti-biotic and anti-viral drugs versus anti-inflammatory and anti-cytokine drugs focusing on the use of hydroxycholoroquine and remdesivir as therapies.