December 16, 2020

collage of screenshots from virtual symposium webinarsCOVID-19 has been the center of global attention over the past year. Life has changed for the vast majority. While the initial disease outbreak likely began in December 2019, it was in March 2020 that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic—the effects have been reverberating ever since. On Thursday, December 3, 2020, The Ohio State University’s Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) held a virtual symposium to bring people together from a variety of disciplines to share their distinctive roles in the greater response to COVID-19. The event included 12 sessions with topics ranging from SARS-CoV-2 virus-host interactions to navigating language barriers and mis/disinformation. The day brought in a total of 306 speakers and attendees—and for those who missed it, session recordings are available here!

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how a disease can affect much more than those whom it infects; social distancing guidelines have changed the way people live day-to-day, many industries are facing unique challenges, while healthcare infrastructure reaches exhaustion, the economy struggles, and political figures continue to wage an ongoing war of public opinion.

But foremost, the center of this issue is the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As people, as academics, and as scientists...asking questions is a fundamental part of being. The past year has been evocative of many questions—the biggest being, What do we do about this?

Such a question begs further inquisition, drawing together many distinct regions of study—from how the virus functions, how to prevent infection, how the virus is spreading, how the public is reacting, and how to best treat those who are infected. Brilliant minds have taken up the task of finding answers to these questions, and as Dr. Linda Saif put it, the IDI “has been really instrumental in bringing these groups together.”

The problems extending from the onset of the pandemic are too expansive to be solved by any one discipline. In order to understand the bigger picture of COVID-19—it takes a diverse collection of people, zooming in on their area of expertise, and disseminating the knowledge they have acquired. The IDI Virtual COVID-19 Symposium provided a platform to do just that—and is a testament to the hard work of many.

Written by Marie Klever.

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