In the latest instalment of Hebrew University’s webinar series about the coronavirus crisis, Shy Arkin, a structural biochemistry professor who studies the inner workings of viruses, gave a riveting presentation on March 18, 2020, titled Coronavirus and the Future of Immunotherapy.
Based on his extensive research and knowledge, Prof. Arkin’s highly informative webinar first highlighted the differences between viruses and bacteria, both of which cause sickness and disease in humans. He described viruses as minute, diverse genetic parasites that act as infectious agents, which are thought to account for about 20% of all cancers.
Using clear, easy-to-understand slides – see below – Prof. Arkin outlined how modern medicine combats viruses by way of vaccinations, drug therapy and serums. He then focused on caronaviruses that infect mammals, birds and humans. With people, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that are usually mild and contribute to the common cold. Except for rogue coronaviruses such as those over the past 18 years that first caused SARS in 2002, followed by MERS in 2012 and COVID-19, whose origins Prof. Arkin explained.
In addressing efforts now underway to find a cure for COVID-19, he said a vaccination is at least a year away. He offered both bad and good news. For some viruses, no vaccination could be found. More reassuring, the virus behind COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be changing which means a vaccination, if developed, should prove effective against it.
The recording of the webinar follows, and below is a gallery of the slides from the presentation.
To read more about his perspective on the current pandemic, click here for an article from The Times of Israel that was published hours before his webinar.