An ongoing dialogue on HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases,
March 22nd, 2022
What Have We Learned from the Pandemic So Far?
I need your help.
Recently one of my colleagues reached out and asked if I could give a talk to his research group.
“Just give one of your canned Covid talks,” he said.
Needless to say — but I will say it anyway — he’s not an ID doctor. Otherwise he’d know that, as I’ve said before, talks on COVID-19 become outdated as soon as you click the little save button (it’s a floppy disk icon) on your PowerPoint program.
As a result, there’s no such thing as a “canned Covid talk” because you need to update them constantly. The field is constantly changing.
(Small aside here — how long will that particular save icon be up there at the top of Microsoft Office programs? After all, people stopped using floppy disks in the late 1990s. My crack research team revealed that companies completely stopped making them over a decade ago.)
How quickly do these COVID talks become outdated? Much faster than floppy disks. I’ve lectured multiple times on COVID-19 over the past 2 years, to a variety of medical and non-medical learners, and thought it might be interesting to see what a talk looked like just 6 months ago, back in September 2021 — an eternity in COVID time.
(I’ve done talks since then, too, but let’s look at 6 months ago for the full effect.)
It included these obsolete topics that one would be hard-pressed to include in a talk today:
- The Delta variant — see you later!
- The monoclonals casirivimab plus imdevimab and bamlanivimab plus etesevimab — remember those? Can you pronounce them yet? If not, you’re probably spared having to learn.
- The debate about whether remdesivir works — not much of a debate anymore, provided it’s started early enough.
- The latest on baricitinib — now a widely accepted tocilizumab alternative.
No mention of nirmatrelvir or molnupiravir or PINETREE or Evusheld or bebtelovimab or interferon lambda. And definitely no Omicron, that was our “gift” during the holiday season, 2021.
It did include the FDA’s admonition on ivermectin, always good for a few chuckles:
You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it. https://t.co/TWb75xYEY4
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) August 21, 2021
That one never gets old, and might stick around for a while in upcoming talks.
Frustrated by the constant churning of content in these COVID talks, I offered my colleague a somewhat different topic, namely:
COVID-19: Lessons Learned (So Far)
… which is why I’m reaching out to you, loyal readers of this site, for help. In a classic case of “be careful what you wish for,” I now realize that this is a gargantuan topic, one spanning pretty much every discipline under the sun. A comprehensive review would take hours (not 50 minutes, with 10 minutes for questions). Frankly, it’s a good topic for an entire PhD thesis.
Life is short, pandemics help expose structural inequalities, rigorous science matters, politicizing medicine is harmful, and vaccines are amazing. In our darkest hours we must hold on to hope. We must keep going.
Impressive what some people can do within the 280 character limit on Twitter! I offered her the opportunity to give the talk in my place, but she declined. Quite understandable — she lives in San Diego, a long way from the Longwood Medical Area. Plus, it’s still freezing here in Boston.
But seriously — what would you include in a talk with this title?
Let me know in the comments. And you can go longer than 280 characters.