Immunology and epidemiology have served as two very important fields this past year, as the world has responded to a virus. UK-based international expert in immunology John Rhodes joins us on episode 301 to discuss his recent book How To Make A Vaccine: An Essential Guide For COVID-19 & Beyond. We cover the research behind vaccines, safety testing, types of vaccines, and more.
From his biography, Dr. Rhodes was educated at the Cambridge Grammar School and University College London. After graduating in zoology he held research fellowships at the US National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC, and the University of Cambridge before joining the Wellcome Foundation in London. From 2001 to 2007 he was director of strategy in immunology at GlaxoSmithKline, a leading multinational healthcare company.
He is a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, has served on UK government international vaccine missions and published numerous articles in leading journals such as Nature, Science and the Lancet. His interests center on the importance of storytelling in scientific discovery and the origins of curiosity, imagination and creativity. Married with two daughters, he lives and works in Cambridge, UK.”
There are a select few individuals who have gone through such a recent moment of intensity and pressure as Dr. Maryam Baqir, M.B.B.S., of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. As Covid-19 cases quickly ramped up in the epicenter of the virus, doctors like her began to respond to an onslaught of cases that turned hospitals into treatment zones far more packed and adaptive than would be the case in calmer times.
Dr. Baqir specializes in Internal Medicine, and received her medical/surgical degrees from Aga Khan University in Pakistan. She grew up in Karachi, though she was born in Tehran, Iran (similar to myself). We met in Manhattan, along with her companion Shan of episode 258. Our discussion in this episode involved much about her recent experience, life messages we both understand and take note of, and a deeper view of what an active response to life challenges looks like. Much was shared and expressed.
how she got into this career path, and what it means to her at this time
what it is like to live in the area of Brooklyn, and how Dr. Baqir got there
the difference in culture between Pakistan and the US
what the response to coronavirus entailed on its initial run-through
how the hospital had to adjust in order to be able to treat all the new patients of one specific condition
processing what occurred, and what the main issues were in relation to the virus, as far as equipment/resources
the feel of the patients, and what it is/was like for them getting treatment from individuals behind masks and shields
empathy shared with patients and their families in a time of anguish
seeing trucks show up because of the out-flux of those who passed away
healthcare workers deciding whether or not to self-quarantine at their home
some of the impacts of in-hospital aerosolization of the virus
fighting for patients for an extensive period of time, and decisions a doctor has to make along the way
how procedure priorities were changed at the hospital, and how doctors were switched from their specialty to tackling the current epidemic
the influx of volunteers from around the country to Dr. Baqir’s hospital, among others, in order to meet the response requirements
connection/unity between healthcare workers on a shared mission
resilience and strength shown in various stories of the moment
how some of the responses to the pandemic were come up with on the spot, or served as an impromptu training
some of the improvements that have been arrived at through these few months of trials and understanding in relation to the virus
comparing symptoms of individuals in similar proximity, and noting differences
use or non-use of shame as a response to public hygiene/safety habits, such as the use of a mask
some of the growth felt by Dr. Baqir during these months
the value of human compassion, and the difference that makes in care
a range of emotions that you feel during an intense experience, and not holding back on showing/expressing them
the concept of not living while being alive, and accepting mortality
preparing for end-of-life care before it gets to an emergency situation
the passing of Maimonides Medical Center Chief of Medicine Dr. Stephan Kamholz due to Covid-19, and his career and impact
a closing message for all people
It was wonderful to have Dr. Baqir on the show. We were able to cover her experience and related life messages in a free-flowing and spontaneous discussion full of detail. You can follow her on Twitter at @MaryamBaqir.