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COVID-19 Vaccines & Treatments: An Inside Look at What Lies Ahead

As the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, continues to spread around the world, scientists and other researchers are racing to develop safe and effective vaccines and treatments. With 165 COVID-19 vaccines under development and 30 already in human trials in record time, many questions remain, including when a vaccine will be widely available, how well it will work, and the means by which it can be distributed equitably. At the same time, therapies such as plasma infusions from recovered COVID-19 patients suggest there may be ways to successfully treat this deadly and debilitating disease. How are these products being developed and evaluated? How can we know – and trust – what works and what does not? What challenges do researchers and medical institutions face in trying to get it “right” using warp speed? On September 10, Mount Sinai Health System experts Dr. Florian Krammer, Professor in Vaccinology, Dr. Judith Aberg, Chief of Infectious Diseases and and Dr. George Baehr Professor of Clinical Medicine, and Dr. Kenneth Davis, CEO and President, joined Aspen Ideas: Health for an inside look at COVID-19 vaccine development and the convalescent plasma program. Presented by Mount Sinai. Watch and share!

About the speakers:

Judith Aberg

Chief of Infectious Diseases, Mount Sinai Health System

Judith A. Aberg, MD, is Chief of Infectious Diseases for the Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. As a nationally renowned researcher in the field, Dr. Aberg has been instrumental in developing one of the country’s first convalescent plasma programs to treat COVID-19. Her current research in vaccine and antibody studies focuses on taking convalescent plasma and turning it into hyperimmune globulin, a concentrated, purified infusion that could help treat and prevent COVID-19 and can be administered to those who have come into contact with the virus.


Florian Krammer

Professor of Vaccinology, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Health System

Florian Krammer, PhD, is the Mount Sinai Professor of Vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He leads the Krammer Laboratory, part of the National Institutes of Health-funded Centers for Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance. His work focuses on understanding broadly reactive immune responses against the surface glycoproteins of RNA viruses such as influenza, with the goal of developing better vaccines and therapeutics. The lab is working to provide reagents and standardized protocols for COVID-19 testing and has developed a new serological assay for SARS-CoV-2, to determine if a person has been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and better understand the antibody response.


Kenneth Davis

CEO and President, Mount Sinai Health System

Kenneth L. Davis is CEO and president of Mount Sinai Health System. He is a leader in the move away from fee-for- service medicine to population health, aiming to keep more patients healthy and out of the hospital. As a neurobiologist, his research led the FDA to approve four of the first five drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. An elected member of the Institute of Medicine and author of more than 575 scientific articles, Davis is a highly cited researcher in the field of brain diseases. His numerous honors include the George H. W. Bush Lifetime of Leadership Award from Yale University. He is a trustee of the Aspen Institute.

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The views and opinions of the speakers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Aspen Institute.

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