A virologist speaks

by MainGate Staff
Spring/Summer 2020

In an interview last April, Nada Melhem discussed the pandemic. She explained that COVID-19 (“CO” for corona, “VI” for virus, “D” for disease, “19” for year originated) is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. As of April, the eight known strains of SARS-CoV-2 show only minor genetic differences, giving researchers hope that future mutations will not substantially change the endogen profile of SARS-CoV-2 and that a single vaccine will be able to provide long term immunity.


Nada Melhem, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and Mircobiology
and Chair of FHS’s Medical Laboratory Sciences


Melhem commented, “Viruses―not just SARS-CoV-2―go in waves. The key to delay and mitigate a second wave is to not be complacent, but to continue practicing public health measures such as testing, social distancing and quarantining, wearing masks, contact tracing, protecting vulnerable individuals and populations, and close monitoring of trends and surges.” She believes that cooperation is essential throughout a wide range of organizations and professions, including national and international governmental and nongovernmental agencies, universities, academic fields, researchers, clinicians, doctors, healthcare workers, politicians, philanthropists, community activists, and individuals.

A deadly novel virus with a high rate of transmissibility certainly lends urgency to the need for coordination at all levels. From the halls of power to the humble household, everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19.