How should healthcare workers caring for immunocompromised patients think about the coronavirus epidemic? 

The novel coronavirus, now called COVID-19, is a worrisome disease, particularly for healthcare workers caring for immunocompromised patients. What do providers taking care of kids with cancer or other vulnerable patients need to know?. In this episode, I interviewed one of the world’s foremost infectious disease specialists who is currently working to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Dr. Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. is a pediatrician-scientist with more than 20 years of experience developing vaccines for neglected tropical diseases. He’s also the Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He’s the endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital and Co-Director of Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. For more information about Dr. Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., click this link

This is very much a crossover episode. It is primarily about the virus and the global health community’s ability to address it. But it is also about pediatric cancer as 1) our patients are more vulnerable to infections and 2) most pediatric cancer patients live in countries with public health systems that may struggle to contain the virus. Given these concerns, it is important that healthcare providers stay aware of the situation. So in this episode, we will discuss what is known about the virus and how to develop a vaccine for it with one of the world’s most respected global health experts in vaccine development. We’ll hear how he views the emerging disease, his thoughts about the timeline for a working vaccine, and how the global health community can win the battle against this potential pandemic.

Recent news articles featuring Dr. Hotez:


What do we know about COVID-19?

The 2019 novel coronavirus or “COVID-19” as the World Health Organization now calls it, is an epidemic that is currently affecting much of China and Southeast Asia and could become a pandemic that causes active disease on all the continents. As of when we published this episode, there are at least 1,600 mortality cases recorded and the virus has infected more than 69,000 people worldwide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that the virus will continue to spread globally across countries and even in the US. Though we know that a lot of coronavirus strains are common like the ones causing mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses such as common colds, this one has the ability to cause a severe, even fatal, respiratory disease. 

What are the signs and symptoms and how can we protect ourselves?

Some of the COVID-19 signs and symptoms can range from fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and difficulty in breathing. It can also easily affect people who have compromised immune systems such as those with diabetes, heart and lung problems and especially the elderly and immunocompromised individuals. 

You may ask yourself, how can we avoid this disease? How can an individual protect itself from the virus? Well, just like how you protect yourself during flu season, you can do the same with coronavirus. 

These measures include: 

  • Avoiding any close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid close interaction with family members. 
  • Cover your mouth when you cough using a tissue or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue immediately in the trash.
  • Make it a habit to always clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning sprays or wipes. 
  • Keep up to date on the latest news about the virus in your area 


You can find more information in the links below.

Elsevier coronavirus information center:

up-to-date coronavirus information center:

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