It’s been almost three months since we had my friend Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. on the radio program to discuss the coronavirus pandemic.
So much has transpired between then and now, and it’s an honor to have him on today’s show to discuss the latest update regarding hot spots, his thoughts on masks, the development of a vaccine and the prospect of churches resuming services.
As a reminder, Dr. Collins has served as the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2009. He oversees much of our country’s biomedical research. In fact. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has assumed a very high-profile role in updating the public, reports to Dr. Collins.
A trained physician-geneticist, Dr. Collins ran the international Human Genome Project, a groundbreaking effort that led to the deciphering of the human DNA instruction book.
I hope you’ll listen to the conversation, but here are a few highlights.
How are we doing overall?
“Depends on where you look,” says Dr. Collins. “I think people have rallied to this and I just can’t say enough about the American people and their willingness to take this public health challenge with great seriousness and put themselves in many instances in difficult circumstances of having to stay at home.”
Do we really need to keep wearing masks?
“I think we do need, even though we’re tired of wearing them and I am, too, to keep remembering why we’re doing this,” replied Collins. “And when you’re out in public wearing a mask, it’s not that you’re protecting yourself against other people who might be infected, you’re protecting them against you on the chance that you’re one of those many people who actually is carrying the virus that has no symptoms and could be spreading it around.”
How close are we to a vaccine?
“They are coming along in record time with this Operation Work Speed that the President announced about two weeks ago. I don’t want people to worry that Work Speed sounds like we’re being careless, however. This is still going to be an incredibly rigorous process to test out these vaccines. There are now a number of them that are ready for large scale testing as early as the first of July.”
How about churches opening back up?
“Question is, is it safe? Are you putting people at risk, particularly those who have chronic illnesses? I would say, again, as you just suggested, it does depend a bit on where you are and what the state of the virus is in that community, but I would be very cautious about not jumping into a circumstance where you have people in anywhere close proximity and certainly the wearing of masks ought to continue to be pushed forward. We also know that being indoors is a place where an awful lot of transmission happens. Being where – being outdoors with the big sky above you places you had somewhat lower risk. So, people who want to have outdoor gatherings and keep everybody six feet apart wearing masks, I’m even more enthusiastic about that.”
Please tune in to hear the full discussion.