Public Health program hosts webinar informing students about coronavirus pandemic

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The CDC recommends people wash their hands for at least 20 seconds as one of the primary methods of preventing coronavirus.

by Katelynn Robinson, Staff Writer

The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health hosted a webinar on March 26 to discuss what college students need to know about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The webinar featured Dr. Nicholas Yphantides and Director of SDSU’s School of Public Health Hala Madanat to discuss the coronavirus and address student concerns.

Yphantides gave an introduction with general information surrounding the pandemic. Then the floor was open for students and other viewers to ask questions. 

Yphantides said COVID-19 is a novel virus and gave three important characteristics that make the virus unique.

“Number one: it is a virus that no one has immunity to,” Yphantides said. “Number two: it is a virus for which no vaccination and no preventative intervention exists. And number three: it is a virus for which we have no direct medical treatment. There are no drugs that are specific to this. There is no Tamiflu equivalent like we have for influenza.”

Yphantides said fighting this virus is like fighting a war. He also said social distancing is extremely important and explained why he is so passionate about the circumstances at hand. 

“You need to realize that in this situation it is not just about you,” Yphantides said. “Much of what we are talking about here is related to the decisions that you make and the impact that they can have on other people.”

Yphantides said, at this time, it is unclear whether someone who has already been infected can be infected again. He compared COVID-19 to influenza, for reference, since influenza mutates and requires a new vaccine every year.

“What is different about the influenza virus is the influenza virus annually does a mutation and it changes which is why every year we have to go through a fascinating process to try to develop as good of a vaccine mechanism as possible,” Yphantides said.

Yphantides said he predicts that in 2021 there will be a way for people to receive their influenza vaccine and their coronavirus vaccine in the same manner. For the time being, he said he hopes people who have recovered from the virus will at least have a short-term immunity to it.

Yphatides said there is a possibility of the social distancing guidelines being more strictly enforced especially in specific hotspots.

“This crisis to me reveals that we can’t just depend on people to passively do the right thing especially when it is an invisible enemy,” Yphantides said.

He also said during this time the true celebrities of the world in his mind are the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who are helping fight the pandemic.