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Washington University in St. Louis

WashU Expert: Ingredients for a virus to become a pandemic

Newswise — Michael Vahey, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, researches viruses and the mechanisms and circumstances that make them more or less capable of reaching pandemic status. 

Vahey is available via email: [email protected] 

In this video, Vahey explains the properties of a virus that allow it to spread so rapidly across the world, reaching pandemic status:

  • Viruses that become pandemics are usually zoonotic in nature; they have made the leap from non-human animals into humans.
  • Once in humans, viruses need to be able to survive and thrive in their new environment if they are to reach pandemic status.
  • Pandemic viruses also need to be able to spread efficiently from human to human in order to infect people around the globe.

Vahey also offers some advice for predicting and preparing for emerging pandemics.

He is scheduled to speak Feb. 26 in Thailand at a National Institutes of Health Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Pacific Rim.



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Released: 18-Jun-2021 7:05 AM EDT
Teamwork saves lives: COVID-19 hospital network shares key findings to improve care
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Data sharing among 40 Michigan hospitals about the care and outcomes for thousands of inpatients with COVID-19 has led to reduced variation and findings that could inform care anywhere, including approaches for preventing blood clots and reducing overuse of antibiotics, as well as a risk prediction tool.

Released: 18-Jun-2021 7:05 AM EDT
One-third of older Americans delayed health care over COVID concerns
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Nearly one in three Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 put off an in-person appointment for medical care in 2020 because they were worried about exposure to the novel coronavirus, new national poll data show.

Released: 17-Jun-2021 4:15 PM EDT
UNC Researchers Lead Study of Diabetes Treatment of COVID-19 Patients
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Diabetes is one of the comorbidities most strongly associated with severe COVID-19 in the US, and data from early in the pandemic suggested individuals with type 2 diabetes faced twice the risk of death from COVID-19 and a greater risk of requiring hospitalization and intensive care. A new study shows best treatment options.

Released: 17-Jun-2021 4:10 PM EDT
Vaccination, Previous Infection, Protect Against COVID-19 gamma/P.1 Variant in Animal Model
University of Wisconsin-Madison

In a new study using variant virus recovered from one of the original travelers, researchers in the U.S. and Japan have found that vaccination with an mRNA vaccine induces antibody responses that would protect humans from infection with the gamma/P.1 variant.

Released: 17-Jun-2021 1:30 PM EDT
Hackensack Meridian Doctors, Student Help Establish Way to Prioritize Surgeries During COVID-19 lockdown
Hackensack Meridian Health

The MeNTS method of prioritizing surgeries during the height of pandemic, developed by University of Chicago, helped procedures continue during time of need

Released: 17-Jun-2021 12:55 PM EDT
‘Nanodecoy’ Therapy Binds and Neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 Virus
North Carolina State University

Nanodecoys made from human lung spheroid cells (LSCs) can bind to and neutralize SARS-CoV-2, promoting viral clearance and reducing lung injury in a macaque model of COVID-19.

Newswise: Blood Cancer Patients with COVID-19 Fare Better with Convalescent Plasma
Released: 17-Jun-2021 11:55 AM EDT
Blood Cancer Patients with COVID-19 Fare Better with Convalescent Plasma
Washington University in St. Louis

A large, retrospective, multicenter study involving Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients can dramatically improve likelihood of survival among blood cancer patients hospitalized with the virus. The therapy involves transfusing plasma — the pale yellow liquid in blood that is rich in antibodies — from people who have recovered from COVID-19 into patients who have leukemia, lymphoma or other blood cancers and are hospitalized with the viral infection.

Released: 17-Jun-2021 11:05 AM EDT
Stress during pandemic linked to poor sleep
Washington State University

Many people likely lost sleep over COVID-19. A study of twins led by Washington State University researchers found that stress, anxiety and depression during the first few weeks of the pandemic were associated with less and lower quality sleep.

Newswise:Video Embedded university-of-miami-miller-school-study-shows-covid-19-mrna-vaccines-do-not-impact-male-fertility
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Released: 17-Jun-2021 11:00 AM EDT
University of Miami Miller School Study Shows COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Do Not Impact Male Fertility
University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines is safe for male reproduction, according to a new study by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researchers published in JAMA , the most widely circulated general medical journal in the world.

15-Jun-2021 1:20 PM EDT
Higher COVID-19 Mortality Among Black Patients Linked to Unequal Hospital Quality
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

If Black patients were admitted to the same hospitals that serve a majority of White patients, researchers showed their risk of death would drop by 10 percent


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