Tags: Coronavirus | COVID-19 | biotech | pandemics | vaccine

Dr. Levin's Prescription Could be a Silver Lining of COVID-19

Dr. Levin's Prescription Could be a Silver Lining of COVID-19
French engineer-virologist Thomas Mollet looks at 24 well plates adherent cells monolayer infected with a Sars-CoV-2 virus.(Jean-Francois Monier/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 06 August 2020 04:43 PM

The pandemic has taken a toll on millions of Americans physically, mentally, and financially.

Yet, there is one physician who remains undeterred in the face of such a rapacious virus. Dr. Jeremy Levin, Chairman and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OVID), has firsthand experience tackling the Opioid crisis that has gripped the nation for over a decade and has recently written and edited a book that shines as a possible silver-lining of COVID-19.

His book, Biotechnology in the Time of COVID-19: Commentaries from the Front Line, collects the perspectives of biotechnology innovators, industry leaders, and others to lend their voices to their respective challenges in battling the virus.

“Since we are unfortunately likely to face a pandemic somewhere in the future, we need to know how these leaders reacted to it now, what were the problems that they faced, what drove them, and why it drove them,” writes Levin, “Not one of these writers was battling COVID in January, but by March, they all were.”

The book provides the reader with unfiltered perspectives of forty-seven leading figures of the biotech industry that “gave their personal experiences, without ghostwriters, so that readers get exact responses from people writing about themselves.”

Dr. Levin says that we have already begun to see some of the silver-linings from the pandemic and that the biotech community was in a stable place at the start of the pandemic.

“What we learned from SARS and H1N1 was the basic structure of this (COVID-19) virus, so this one we were able to jump on, and the science of biotechnology allows you to do that.

“The second thing is that the industry was really focused on curing cancer, and nearly 50 percent of the funding is geared toward that, although there are many other diseases [we’re facing] such as diabetes. When we pivoted to COVID, we also pivoted to how the immune system of the body works.”

What we got from that, Levin maintains, “is a considerable investment in figuring out how to make medicines stronger and fighting diseases with wide-ranging conditions like arthritis; so, a huge investment will lead to a new way of looking at therapeutics.”

The way that Americans truly reap a lasting benefit from the current pandemic is ensuring that the lessons we have learned are not quickly forgotten or discarded.

The West and America, as civilizations that embody democratic principles, will “have to decide and confront what we learned. If we don’t do that, then the electorate will be betrayed.”

This pandemic will go away, Levin agrees, but quickly added that “when it comes back, we want it to be treatable like the flu on a seasonal or an annual basis. We don’t want more of the mass catastrophes that we have now, and every administration is going to have to commit to advancing public health.”

Once a vaccine is created and can be administered to the public, there has to be a widespread movement to vaccinate. As Levin sees the future, “what is critical is that if you begin to vaccinate a population and you only accomplish a small proportion of that, you will fail to make the disease go away.”

He added that “it’s like vaccinating with measles; when you don’t vaccinate for it, it spreads like wildfire.”

Dr. Levin believes that ultimately there has to be a return to normalcy post-COVID and “the most important thing is to get people back to some semblance of normal, and that includes going to school. That is the key component; you can’t have kids who carry the virus into rooms with teachers who aren’t  vaccinated.”

That's why educators need to receive the vaccine, so they don't fact the uncertainty of coming into contact with children who could be asymptomatic.

Given the highly charged political climate, one would imagine that these political divisions have impacted the biotech industry. Dr. Levin, however, does not see that being a factor whatsoever.

In any industry, there is a wide array of views, and that is what makes us a democracy.

But there has also always been a duty to say “let’s move.”

“Overwhelmingly, the industry has shown that it is not interested in politics, and maybe politicians will take that as an example,” says Levin, “That type of leadership is tremendously important, and every level of these companies has dismissed out of hand the political divisions and is only focused on finding a cure.”

That sagacious advice is what America precisely needs right now more than ever: that is, a move away from partisan politicking. This partisan politicking was seen in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment referring to the Coronavirus as “the Trump virus”--simply because she and the President had differences of opinion over policy prescriptions.

Dr. Levin’s book provides one other lesson that shows the greatest societal virtue that ought to be fostered during the pandemic: charity. He noted to Newsmax that “the editor royalties and a portion of publisher revenues are going to be donated to two rare disease research nonprofits: Global Genes and The Institute for Life Changing Medicines.”

That is a silver-lining if there ever was one.

Michael Cozzi is a Ph.D. candidate at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

© 2020 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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The pandemic has taken a toll on millions of Americans physically, mentally, and financially....
COVID-19, biotech, pandemics, vaccine
Thursday, 06 August 2020 04:43 PM
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