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Top Coronavirus Experts Give a Frank, Revealing Analysis in Much Anticipated Houston Fundraising Event

Dr. Peter Hotez and Dr. James McDeavitt Keep It Real

BY // 09.08.20
photography Agapito Sanchez

For all the excitement generated by announcement last spring that Dr. Peter Hotez, the bowtie-attired COVID-19 expert, and Dr. James McDeavitt, Baylor College of Medicine’s COVID-19 commando, would lead the Center for Pursuit luncheon program, these medical experts did not disappoint. Those tuning into the live virtual event, some 300 in all, were rewarded with an informative program that far, far exceeded any news show on the pandemic.

Among the many insights garnered from their discussion, moderated by KPRC Channel 2’s Khambrel Marshall, was McDeavitt’s comparison of COVID-19 to a beach ball that you are trying to hold under water. “As soon as you relax your grip, the ball pops back up to the surface. The same for the virus, as soon as we let down our vigilance, relax masking and social distancing, we will see a resurgence in our community until we get a vaccine,” McDeavitt notes.

Wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and social distance — this was the mantra of the two doctors, who presented their program from the boardroom at Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center.

While Hotez urges against overpromising a vaccine timeline, he shared with viewers that he is working on a new vaccine that will produce one billion does in India. “The work has been done at Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital’s Center for Vaccine Development and with Dr. Maria Bottazzi,” he says. “It is necessary to have multiple vaccines that are safe and effective to vaccinate 320 million in our country, but we will have them sometime next year in my opinion.”

The duo explained their desire to see certain COVID-19 milestones reached before safely reopening schools and the easing other social distancing restrictions. They would like to see less than 200 new cases reported per day, the R value factor which measures the infectivity of the virus less than one, and a test positivity rate of less than five percent over a relatively sustained period of time.

You can view the entire program here.

The virtual event, chaired by Raj and Harsha Naran, Rishi and Shivani Naran, and Jeff and Prina Spillane raised more than $170,000 for The Center, which serves more than 450 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Before the more than hour-long discussion with the physicians, the program included remarks from honorees Tom Landis, founder of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream; and Frances Castañeda Dyess, president of Houston East End Chamber of Commerce; and an update from The Center president and CEO Charles C. Canton on the new, transformative campus under construction in the East End.

For interesting, up-t0-date insights on COVID-19, check out McDeavitt’s Twitter account and read his newsletter to the Baylor medical community. Sobering.

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