Anthony Fauci Discusses COVID-19 Challenges with Columbia Virologist

Columbia virologist Vincent Racaniello, PhD, host of the podcast "This Week in Virology," interviewed Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, about our current understanding of COVID-19 and progress with vaccines and new treatments.

Snippets of the conservation appear below; listen to the full 30-minute conversation on YouTube or on the TWiV homepage.

Do kids acquire or transmit the virus differently than adults?

The answer is we don't know...Certainly children don't get sick nearly as much. 

We have a study that we started on May 1 called the HEROS [study]. It's going to be 6,000 kids in 2,000 families looking at the rate of infection, the transmissibility to parents and family members, and whether or not they get sick, and with their antibody response. So we should know the answer to that question soon.



On new vaccines

The phase one data [on the Moderna vaccine] really does look good. If you look at the immunity response in a moderate dose, 100 micrograms, you get pretty robust, neutralizing antibody against wild type virus as high or even higher than convalescent serum. So at least for a finite period of time, I think we're going to get a good neutralizing response. How long it lasts, we don't know. But, I don't say this in a flippant way, I'll worry about that later. If the immunity wanes, then we'll worry about a booster shot.

On prioritizing candidate therapies

We have two therapies now that seem to work well in improving either time to discharge or mortality. Dexamethasone for ventilated people needing oxygen; it's no good early. Remdesivir, better early on because it's an antiviral.

So what we really need right now are agents that operate early on that prevent a sick person from going to the hospital. Those are the ones we want to do. So we got convalescent plasma, hyperimmune globulin, direct antivirals, monoclonal antibodies, all those have been prioritized and are all going into clinical trials right now.


Vincent Racaniello, PhD, is the Higgins Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.