Health Professionals Can Help Make Accurate COVID Info Go Viral

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Coronavirus in Context: Health Professionals Can Help Make Accurate COVID Info Go Viral

  • Published on Sep 17, 2020

Video Transcript


JOHN WHYTE: Hi, Everyone.

I’m Dr. John Whyte, Chief

Medical Officer at WebMD.

And you’re watching Coronavirus

in Context.

Today, I’m joined

by the president of the American

Medical Association, Dr. Susan


Dr. Bailey, thanks for coming

on today.


my pleasure.

Thanks for having me.

JOHN WHYTE: Let’s start

off, you’re an allergist,


Perfect background to talk to us

about the vaccine.

What’s going on?

We recently heard

about a clinical hold.

What’s your thoughts

on the timeline that everyone’s

talking about?

SUSAN BAILEY: Well, you know,

the vaccine timeline,

as everybody is aware because

of Operation Warp Speed,

has been greatly amplified.

But no steps are being skipped.

I think it’s

important for everyone

to understand that all

the manufacturers are going

through the standards

phase I, phase II, phase III


It’s just that some of them

have kind of overlapped

a little bit.

And the federal government

has subsidized the vaccine


And so some of them are already

actually making vaccine

for the public before it’s been

approved, with the hopes of, you


the phase III trials coming out


The, the–

JOHN WHYTE: Otherwise, they’re

going to have to throw it out.




And so in a normal market

in a situation, manufacturers

would never take on that kind

of financial risk.

So that’s why– that’s one

of the reasons why it takes so


But the– the pause

in the AstraZeneca Oxford

vaccine for a patient that

developed transverse myelitis,

you know, it’s sobering,

because as we know

transverse myelitis can either

be a response

to a viral infection

or to an autoimmune reaction

from a viral infection.

And so there’s a great deal

of concern that that might,

indeed, be vaccine related.

And the AstraZeneca vaccine

is a viral vector vaccine,

a Trojan horse vaccine, if you


that brings

in a spike protein-type particle

for the body to develop

an immune reaction to.

Whereas the two others that are

in phase III trials

in the United States

are actually mRNA vaccines.

A totally different type

of vaccine.

Actually, it’s a new technology

that’s really never been proven

to be effective.


But from an immunology

perspective, so let’s say,

you know, they’re testing 30,000

people in phase III

clinical trial.

And say a transverse myelitis

is one in 20,000, you know,

one in 30,000.

How concerned are you, though,

about safety issues

where we’re going from 30,000

people to 300 million people?

What’s that timeline that we

really need for post markets,

you know, surveillance,

from any immunology perspective.

So how do we know?

SUSAN BAILEY: Well, really

the only way

you know is by getting it

to more people.

And the fact that there are

multiple vaccines

in various phases

across the world that are all

going on simultaneously,

although, obviously, they can’t

really, you know, completely

share phase III data.

But at least we will have

an accumulation of many more

patient experiences

with certain types of vaccines

than in an individual trial

of 30,000 patients.

So I’m hoping in the long run

that will be very helpful to us

in terms of kind of having

some post marketing surveillance

on steroids, because we’ve got

so many different, you know,

types of vaccines out there

at the same time.

But I think it just highlights

the importance of not cutting


being extremely safe, and very

aware of the fact

that if this vaccine does not

have the complete confidence

of the physician community,

we won’t be able to get

the confidence of our patients.

JOHN WHYTE: Well, talk

about that.

Because we need transparency.

And drug development in general

is not


by its very definition.

And there’s already

misinformation out there.



about other vaccines

that people aren’t taking

that we know folks need.

We’ve seen it in HPV.

We’ve even seen it in PNEUMOVAX.

What’s the role of physicians

and physician leadership

in being out there?

You know, there is a lot

of physicians on social media.

But others will say you know

what, I don’t want to get

in to that.

And then other voices

are amplified and heard.

So what’s the AMA doing in terms

of physician leadership,

physician voices on topics

like vaccination?

SUSAN BAILEY: The AMA is trying

to be very

proactive in developing

physician leaders to–

to amplify the message

of evidence and good science.

We have what we call

an Ambassador Program

that physicians that are AMA


can sign up for and get

intense education about AMA

messages and ideas and thoughts

that we want to get out.

And– but you’ve

got to be established

as a trusted source

of information before anybody is

going to trust you

in the future.

So we, through the JAMA Network,

their incredible body of work,

and hopefully, you know, being

a trusted agent for those

to look to, that we can amplify

that message.

But you’ve got to– it’s got

to be multi-pronged.

You’ve got to do social media.

You’ve got to do press releases.

You got to do MMRs.

Especially in this day when you

can’t have meetings,

it’s especially challenging.

JOHN WHYTE: Should we have more

physicians on social media?

SUSAN BAILEY: I think we should.

I think that it’s,

um, a great way

to communicate with the public.

And it is– patients are craving

good, honest, trustworthy

information from their doctors.

And I think not only is it

a good way for us

to communicate with each other,

I think it’s a good way

to spread good science messages


to our patients.

JOHN WHYTE: Now, it’s

great to have an immunologist

on because I’ve got

a lot of questions.


JOHN WHYTE: I want to ask you,

antibody testing, what’s

the role of antibody testing?

It’s kind of gone

through these cycles

over the last, you know, six,

seven months.

Tell us the latest.

What’s Dr. Bailey’s



Uh, my recommendation

at this stage of the game

is that antibody testing should

still really only be utilized

as part of an overall evaluation

of a patient,


as a definite diagnostic point.

It should be used to help

determine whether a patient

who’s had COVID-19

is a candidate to donate

convalescent plasma

or for community surveillance.

Since the antibody responses do

seem to wane fairly quickly

after acute infection, at least

IGG, they’re not breaking out

various antibiotic classes,

we may be looking at much more

of a T-cell mediated immune

response that is a little bit

more challenging to measure.

JOHN WHYTE: Do you think there’s

reinfection possibility?

Or is that pretty low?

SUSAN BAILEY: You know, I don’t

think we know that either.

There’s the case out of Hong

Kong that’s been reported.

I have not seen any of the data

about that.

But it– there– there are so

many hot spots in the country.

People are not traveling around

like they were at the beginning

of the pandemic.

If reinfection were

a common thing, I would think

that we would have seen a lot

of it by now.

And– and I don’t think

we really have.

So, um, I don’t know.

Don’t know.


of reinfection,

let’s talk

about multiple infections.

Let’s talk about flu, influenza,

and the importance of the flu


And talking about lots

of misconceptions

about the COVID vaccine that’s

not even here yet,

we’ve got plenty

of misperceptions about flu.

And I’m sure you’ve heard it

as I’ve heard it,

you know, it gave me the flu

last year, when we know it–

it hasn’t.

So what do listeners need

to know about the flu vaccine

this year?

SUSAN BAILEY: The flu vaccine,

if you have–

if there’s ever been a time when

it has been more important,

it’s this year.

There’s going to be plenty

of flu vaccine available.

There aren’t going to be

any shortages.

It’s important for people–

we just have to reiterate

this message over and over


The flu vaccine does not have

any live viral particles in it.

That is unless you get

the nasal spray.

That’s a different– that’s

a different thing.

But the flu shot cannot give you

the flu.

If you feel bad after a flu

shot, it may be just

because of the immune response

that you’re getting

to the shot– and that’s a good


or you waited too long

and caught the flu

before your flu shot had

a chance to kick in

and it was just bad timing.

So a flu vaccine is safe.

The AMA wants everybody

over the age of six months

to get a flu vaccine this year.

We just can’t risk overwhelming

our health care system

this winter

with a so-called “twindemic” flu

and COVID at the same time.

JOHN WHYTE: Some people might

get it at the same time.


JOHN WHYTE: So if people

with flu

keep coming to the hospital,

people with COVID coming

to the hospital, then perhaps

people with both coming in.

I want to get back to,

you know, how quickly does

the flu vaccine work post

once you get your shot?

SUSAN BAILEY: Typically,

within 14 days you people should

be fairly well protected.

JOHN WHYTE: Because people don’t

always understand that.

It’s not like you get it,

and boom, you know,

you’re protected right away.

SUSAN BAILEY: It’s like putting

on a coat of armor

and you’re immediately immune.

It takes a while for it

to kick in.


SUSAN BAILEY: I’ve gotten

questions, no, the flu vaccine

won’t keep you from getting


There’s some people that don’t

understand that.

JOHN WHYTE: It’s from viruses.



When we do have a COVID vaccine

available, I’m sure the two are

going to be compatible.

So you can get a flu vaccine

and then get

a coronavirus vaccine.

And I would not be at all

surprised in the future

if we see combination flu,

coronavirus vaccines that people

get every year.

JOHN WHYTE: Let’s talk

about burnout.

You heard it from many

of your colleagues as well.

The, you know, the response

of being there every day,

seeing death, seeing morbidity,

taking care of patients,

being on the front line.

Physicians were burned out

before COVID.

We’re having shortages still

in some areas of PPE.

What is the AMA doing

about burnout?

SUSAN BAILEY: You’re right,

burnout has been

a longstanding problem.

And it’s been on the AMA’S radar

for a long time.

Burnout is not a moral failing.

Burnout is not a form

of personal weakness.

Burnout is a systems issue.

Burnout is the result of being

asked to function

in a medical world that is not

there to help you do your best

job, unfortunately.

And that we need to help systems

understand what policies

and procedures and scheduling,

and you have it, that they are

utilizing that are contributing

to burnout.

There’s some evidence

that physicians

in private practice

have less burnout, possibly

because they’re making

their own decisions

and understand that– why

they’re being made?

JOHN WHYTE: What keeps you up

at night?

SUSAN BAILEY: What keeps me up

at night?

I worry about the physician


becoming not only burned out,

but just becoming completely


by the whole pandemic.

The– you know,

in the beginning,

we had Health Care Heroes.

And you know, people were given

physicians and other front line

health care workers

pats on the back for putting

themselves in harm’s way.

And that’s kind of been


Public’s memory of things

like that, unfortunately,

is very short.

And one of the messages that I

like to talk about when I talk

to medical groups

is that physicians really are

heroes, and that it’s just bred

into us by the nature

of our medical training,

and that regardless of

whether you feel like a hero

or not, you are.

And as a physician,

we have a very special calling.

And we still– we will always

have our patients, which is what

gives us the most joy.

JOHN WHYTE: Well, Dr. Bailey

I want to thank you for taking

time today.

I want to thank you

for your insights.

Thank you for your leadership

of really helping try to improve

the health care system

for physicians

or other providers,

for patients.

SUSAN BAILEY: Happy to join you


Thanks so much.

JOHN WHYTE: And thank you

for watching Coronavirus

in Context.

I’m Dr. John Whyte.


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