The Body Can Rebound
Garnett C, Mehler PS. The Body Can Rebound. NIH Record 72:4-5, 2020.
Business is always booming in December and January for senior research scientist Dr. Cécile Viboud. That’s because she and her group at Fogarty International Center collect and analyze data about worldwide influenza trends, and flu season poses challenges for them every year. Usually, though, their work escapes notice beyond interested insiders. But winter 2020 was exceptional, of course. COVID -19 happened.
“There’s so much interest in dis-ease-modeling right now—it’s crazy,” acknowledges Viboud, director of FIC’s Division of International Epidemiology and Population Studies. “My colleagues and I joke that our field of expertise is such a niche and nobody knows what we are doing and now everyone wants to talk to us.
”Viboud recalls coming across the disease caused by a novel coronavirus “in late December, early January by just looking at ProMED.”
According to its website, ProMED, or the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, is an internet service provided by the International Society for Infectious Diseases “to identify unusual health events related to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and toxins affecting humans, animals and plants.”
“There were a few [posts] there that described interesting clusters of ‘pneumo-nia of unknown etiology in Wuhan,’” she says. In addition to those entries catching her attention, an outstanding Chinese postdoc in her group, Dr. Kaiyuan Sun, coincidentally became interested in the outbreak very early on.