As the world continues to reckon with the COVID-19 outbreak, we wanted to highlight speakers who are attempting to make sense of this virus and its impact. These medical doctors and journalists report on the race to understand and stop the virus, examine the physical and social effects of a global pandemic, and reckon with the process of finding a vaccine that can help bring the pandemic to an end.
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Dr. Matt McCarthy
Dr. Matt McCarthy is an infectious disease doctor and an expert in superbugs who has been on the front line of the hospital response to COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has appeared on media and at congressional briefings with lawmakers to provide his medical knowledge on the coronavirus. In his informative talks, Dr. McCarthy provides the most current coronavirus updates and lays out the facts about the virus, including the long road to vaccination and what we as a society can learn from global outbreaks.
In his 2011 book A Planet of Viruses, Carl Zimmer warned that a virus that lived in a bat or some other animals would adapt to humans and sweep across the world. “We don’t know which virus will create the next great epidemic,” he wrote. “But that doesn’t mean that we can simply ignore them. Just the opposite: there are the viruses we need to block before they get a chance to make the great leap into our species.” The COVID-19 pandemic is the result of precisely the spillover that Zimmer predicted. At the New York Times, Zimmer reports on the science behind the race to understand the new coronavirus and to find a vaccine. An award-winning science journalist, his insightful talks build on his expert reporting of COVID vaccine research, as well as what we can learn for future responses to viral outbreaks.
Dr. Sheri Fink
Dr. Sheri Fink’s Netflix documentary television series, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, debuted in January 2020, warning about an inevitable flu pandemic.Less than two months later, the inevitable happened. Reporting for the New York Times, Dr. Fink frequently goes behind the scenes at hospitals in cities where coronavirus cases are on the rise to understand what frontline doctors face in treating COVID-19 patients. Her eye-opening lectures give audiences a look into Dr. Fink’s recent experiences, and provide insights into public health interventions that reduce harm from the pandemic. She shares what it looks like for medical professionals to try and stop an outbreak and discusses the most important things people can do to stay healthy.
Dr. Michele Harper
Dr. Michele Harper is an emergency room physician, working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia. During the months when the coronavirus kept millions confined to their home, she had been at the forefront in the fight against the pandemic. Harper sheds light on how the coronavirus has affected healthcare workers and provides a crash course on the state of American healthcare. She also speaks on how the policies and systemic racism in healthcare, especially during this pandemic, have allowed the most vulnerable members of society to fall through the cracks.
Howard Markel, M.D.
Dr. Howard Markel is a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan and the author of When Germs Travel, a fascinating look at several major epidemics throughout history and an examination of the way our public health system responded to each. Drawing upon his extensive knowledge on pandemics, Markel has served as an adviser to government officials on what can be learned from past pandemics, what history revealed about cities that socially distanced during a pandemic, and how to best mitigate the current pandemic’s impact.
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal
A former ER physician, Elisabeth Rosenthal was an award-winning reporter at The New York Times for twenty-two years, gaining acclaim for her coverage of health and health policy issues. Losing her mother to the pandemic,Dr. Rosenthal draws on her medical expertise, healthcare knowledge, and personal experience to speak about the best defenses against viral illness, COVID testing, and the predicted medical cost of a vaccine.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is the crusading pediatrician who first researched and revealed the lead in the blood of Flint, Michigan’s children. Named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and USA Today’s“Women of the Century,” she continues to be champion a for equal public health. In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Hanna-Attisha—who personally recovered from the virus—has been spreading awareness and education about the disease while also advocating for equal access to COVID-related care.
Dr. Cara Natterson
Cara Natterson, M.D. is a pediatrician who, in her time practicing medicine, cared for thousands of infants, children, and teenagers. She used this invaluable expertise as a launchpad for Worry Proof Consulting, a first-of-its-kind practice that gives parents open-ended time to cover medical, behavioral, and parenting issues in depth. Dr. Natterson has been releasing frequent email newsletters relating to the coronavirus, including the latest news on the pandemic and how parents and children alike can cope during this time.
Undark’s publisher, Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum knows the importance of improving people’s understanding of public health, especially during a pandemic. . At the height of the pandemic, Blum wrote a column where she answered frequently asked questions about the novel coronavirus, the efforts to combat it, and the broader impacts of the pandemic on other industries.