Ep 63 – COVID-19 & SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant: Scientific Insights from a Leading Virologist, with Dr. Rodney E. Rohde

We are pleased to release a special bonus episode and do our part to address the nation’s concerns around the pandemic and the COVID vaccine. As it stands right now, around 164 million people, or 50% of the total U.S. population, have now been fully vaccinated. Ultimately, with a large portion of the U.S. population still unvaccinated, it seems that COVID-19 is not going to disappear soon. The U.S. will continue to see outbreaks of the virus in communities with low vaccine uptake.

Our guest is Dr. Rodney Rohde, a virologist and clinical laboratory expert with 30 years of experience in Public health, virology, and zoonotic disease, and is a Professor in the College of Health Professions and Associate Director for the Texas State University Translational Health Research Center. This episode is for anyone who wants to hear a scientific discussion about SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 to combat misinformation that is out there about the pandemic.

Episode Bookmarks:

04:30 Dr. Rohde shares a brief overview of the medical laboratory profession and the Clinical Laboratory Science degree programs

08:30  The impact of the pandemic on the medical laboratory staffing crisis

09:50 Dr. Rohde speaks about the importance of laboratory medicine in improving value-based care and health equity

13:00 Did SARS-CoV-2 originate from a laboratory leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology?  Or did the virus originate from a zoonotic spillover event?

18:15 Referencing Dr. Rohde’s recent article discussing how the US is split between the vaccinated and unvaccinated – and how the deaths and hospitalizations reflect this divide

20:00 Dr. Rohde discusses how “99.5% of all the people dying from COVID-19 in the U.S. are unvaccinated” and how to understand breakthrough infections happening with the vaccinated

22:30 How to eradicate a virus and why current immunization rates will not support disease eradication

24:50 “Viruses, especially RNA viruses, are the most diabolical microbes on the planet.”

25:30 Viral mutations that create infectious variants and the opportunism of infection

28:20 The global achievement of smallpox eradication

28:50 Dr. Rohde explains vaccine efficacy and what people should ask their physicians if debating whether or not to receive the vaccine

31:00 The low of mRNA vaccines

34:00 Dr. Rohde explains what the Delta variant is and provides a scientific overview of viral mutations

37:00 The changing pathology of the virus and how younger, unvaccinated people are now being affected by the Delta variant

38:00 Booster shots for immunocompromised individuals and the likelihood of boosters for the general population

39:20 The transmissibility of the Delta variant. what the R-naught number means in understanding viral contagion, and how Delta variant compares to Ebola transmission

45:00 Referencing the COVID-19 thought leadership and insights from Scott Gottlieb, Tom Frieden, and Peter Hotez

46:20 The three-year cycle of unchecked pandemics, the development of herd immunity, and the potential for an endemic transition in 2022

47:50 The significance of the landmark scientific achievement of developing a mRNA vaccine technology (the first time in history!)

50:00 Viewing public health as part of our public defense and why we need to learn that one lesson from this pandemic!