It's not only good news, but great news.
UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal, a chemical ecologist with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and a former chair of the Department of Entomology (now Entomology and Nematology), says the COVID-19 saliva test he received at a UC Davis testing kiosk is fast.
"I was tested yesterday at 1:11 p.m., the result was completed at 9:20 a.m., received an email at 10:50 a.m., remarkably fast!" he tweeted today. "Could we do the same with vaccination? Please join the 373 who have already registered (for the UC Davis COVID-19 public symposium).
Leal is organizing and moderating the virtual symposium, set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, when UC Davis scientists will share information on COVID-19 saliva, hospital, and sewage surveillance tests--as well as the Healthy Davis Together program. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May will deliver the opening remarks.
Speakers will include UC Davis scientists Richard Michelmore, Nam Tram and Heather Bischel, who will explain the UC Davis COVID-19 tests and answer questions. The public is invited to submit advance questions and also may ask questions during the symposium via the Zoom chat. Registration is underway at https://bit.ly/2Li9pnV.
“This symposium will yield important information that everyone should know,” said Leal. A query from one of his students prompted the Jan. 13 symposium. (This is the fourth COVID-19 symposium he's organized and moderated since April 23.)
At specially set up kiosks on the UC Davis campus, free COVID-19 saliva tests are given, by appointment, to members of the UC Davis and Davis communities. The rapid, comprehensive laboratory-developed test detects whether a person is currently infected with the coronavirus. The UC Davis Genome Center processes the saliva samples. Technically, the test uses a high throughput, real time, quantitative polymerase chain reaction protocol run on machines repurposed from the agricultural genetics industry.
The Jan. 13th symposium also will cover COVID-19 hospital tests (given in the emergency room and bedside) and wastewater surveillance tests, also known as sewage tests.
“Healthy Davis Together” partners UC Davis with the City of Davis to prevent the spread of the virus and “to facilitate a coordinated and gradual return to regular city activities and reintegration of UC Davis students back into the Davis community.”
Michelmore, a UC Davis distinguished professor, directs the Genome Center, and holds joint appointments with the College of Biological Sciences, School of Medicine, and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Tram is an associate clinical professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine who specializes in clinical chemistry and point-of-care. Bischel is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
“Registration is required for the symposium, even if you cannot attend the live presentation but are interested in retrieving the symposium video later,” Leal said.
- We are taking a unique, multi-disciplinary approach to screening and testing members of the UC Davis community for the coronavirus. Screening symptom-free students and employees will help better identify COVID-19 and track cases on campus.
- This COVID-19 testing uses saliva samples, is cost-free to UC Davis students and employees, and provides rapid results in 24-48 hours.
- COVID-19 testing is now available to all UC Davis students and employees and will be required on a weekly basis to access any Davis campus facility.
He alerted UC Davis scientists to an article in sciencedirect.com that indicated this anecdotal information: beekeepers living in the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus in China did not contract the virus, and neither did a group of patients receiving apitherapy.
"These people have one thing in common: they develop a tolerance to bee sting," wrote lead author Wei Yang, an oncologist from China and two associates. The trio pointed out that "It reminds us the story of the discovery of cowpox and the eventual victory of humans over this disease (Bennett and Baxby)
"In the Hubei province, the epicenter of COVID-19 in China, 5,115 beekeepers were surveyed from February 23 to March 8," Gary said, quoting the article. "This survey included 723 who lived in Wuhan, the outbreak epicenter of Hubei. Amazingly, none of these beekeepers developed symptoms associated with Covid-19. Their health was totally normal. Additional studies at apitherapy clinics, where bee venom treatments were made on patients from October to December 2019, revealed that none of the 121 patients, or the apitherapists that treated them, became infected, even though some were exposed to relatives or contacts infected with Covid-19."
"Bee venom therapy is successfully used for treating some forms of arthritis and rheumatism," said Gary, who at 86 has worked with bees for more than seven decades. "I think that the use of bee venom vs.COVID-19 should be investigated. Maybe our UC Davis Primate Center (California National Primate Research Center) will consider appropriate experiments with primates to test bee venom therapy for COVID-19. I have received thousands of bee stings during my 70 years of working and playing with bees. Maybe that's why I'm 86 and COVID-19 free!"
Norm began keeping bees at age 15 in Florida. His career includes hobby beekeeper, commercial beekeeper, deputy apiary inspector in New York, honey bee research scientist, entomology professor, author, bee wrangler and Guinness World record holder.
During his professional bee wrangler career spanning four decades, “The Bee Man” served as a consultant and bee stunt coordinator for 17 movies, 70 TV shows and six TV commercials. Among his credits: “Fried Green Tomatoes” and appearances with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno on Tonight Shows.
He launched the Thriller Bee Shows, performing more than 100 times in three western states, with venues that included the California State Fair. He drew widespread acclaim for wearing a head-to-toe suit of clustered bees while "Buzzin' with His Bee-Flat Clarinet."
Gary once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with artificial nectar. His holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt. He's also the person behind the "bee suit" record in the Guinness World Records; Gary clustered more than 87 pounds of bees on a friend.
As a musician, Gary plays the clarinet (B-flat clarinet), alto sax, tenor sax, and flute with several groups.
Benefits of Bee Venom Therapy
Page remembers helping his friend and mentor, the late Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr.,(1907-2003) of UC Davis, "the father of honey bee genetics," receive bee stings to alleviate his arthritis. (The bee research facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, bears the name of the "Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Center").
"I used to take the bees and put them on his neck and have them stinging so that he would get his certain number of stings a week," Page told interviewee Leal, adding that this was "not standard medical practice" but "he believed in it."
Laidlaw's daughter, Barbara Laidlaw Murphy, now of Washingrton state, remembers the bee sting therapy well. "He put bee stings on his knee and he put them on my mom's hands--for (treatment of) arthritis," she said. "They used to get the bees out of the hive in the lab sign."
"He seemed to believe in it," Murphy said. "My mom was quite enthusiastic about it for her. He would have the bee sting her on her knuckles. Her hand would swell up quite a lot. After the swelling went down she was sure that her arthritis was better and she could get back to her knitting."
See the COVID-19 Symposium, primarily on vaccines, here: https://youtu.be/O4L0OHcZ5Mk.
“We are fortune to obtain Dr. Broderick, who is INOVIO's senior vice president of research and development, as one of our primary speakers,” said UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, symposium organizer and moderator.
The free online symposium will take place from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 3 on Zoom and YouTube. A pre-program begins at 4:30 with interviews and questions to accommodate all the material. (To register and view the program, access https://bit.ly/2AgVbxY)
“Dr. Broderick targets deadly infectious diseases and cancers and now she has her sights set on a DNA vaccine for COVID-19,” Leal said, adding that she “brought the first-in-human Lassa fever vaccine into the clinic and advanced the development of a DNA vaccine for the MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) virus.”
Over the course of her career, the San Diego-based vaccine expert has authored or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed articles. Her team regularly publishes and presents research findings in leading scientific publications and at worldwide conferences. She has participated by invitation at advisory meetings convened by the World Health Organization to discuss DNA vaccines and their delivery.
Broderick is the co-inventor of multiple patents related to DNA vaccine delivery, and has served as a principal investigator on grants, awards, and contracts from leading government agencies and not-for-profit organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Small Business Innovation Research program, and including a $56M award from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
She helped drive the development of novel prototypes and designs of INOVIO's proprietary smart device CELLECTRA®, which delivers the company's DNA medicines directly into cells in the body.
Broderick received her doctorate from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of California, San Diego. She joined INOVIO in 2006. In 2018, Dr. Broderick was named Business Women of the Year by the San Diego Business Journal.
The symposium, with a welcoming address by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, is expected to draw a widespread audience.
The primary speakers or panelists:
- Dr. Robert Gallo, who co-discovered that HIV causes AIDS, is the Homer and Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine; co-founder and director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Institute of Human Virology; and co-founder of the Global Virus Network.
- Dr. Dean Blumberg, professor and chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, UC Davis Health
- Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine.
Renowned honey bee geneticist Robert E. Page, former professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will comment on bee therapy, a possible treatment for COVID-19 treatments (suggested by researchers in China but not yet investigated.) (See https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041010120302245)
Retired UC Davis Medical Center nurse Carolyn Wyler of Sacramento, a passenger on the ill-fated Grand Princess cruise ship, will talk about her COVID-19 outbreak experiences from ship to shore (Travis Air Force Base quarantine). Overall, two passengers and one crew member on the Grand Princess died, and 103 tested positive. Wyler and her husband tested negative.
Leal, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology who has organized and moderated two other COVID-19 symposiums as a public service.
“Thanks you so much for today, and to all of your panelists. The citizens of our area are truly lucky for your hard work in your preparation for this informational webinar. The public needs more of these types of forums for the detail education that this provided on COVID-19.”
That was one of the unsolicited comments praising the second COVID-19 Symposium organized and moderated by UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal.
If you missed the symposium, held May 14, not to worry. It's online at https://bit.ly/3b8TAau. Offering up-to-date information from physicians and scientists on the front lines, the symposium to date has drawn more than 2000 viewers from 10 countries: United States, UK, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Peru, and Slovakia.
Four panelists presented information and answered questions:
- Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine
- Dr. Atul Malhotra, professor of medicine, pulmonology, critical care, UC San Diego Health
- Dr. Emanuel Maverakis, professor of dermatology and immunology, UC Davis School of Medicine
- Dr. David Lubarsky, vice chancellor of Human Health Sciences and chief executive officer, UC Davis Health.
Brashear related that UC Davis has 24 active COVID-19 studies and is pursuing possible treatments on many fronts, including plasma transfusions from blood donors who recovered from COVID-19 used in an effort to boost another patient's ability to neutralize the virus.
Others participating included Dr. Jane Sykes, professor of small animal internal medicine (infectious diseases emphasis) and chief veterinary medical officer, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; and Dr. James M. Hotaling, associate professor, Department of Urology, School of Medicine, University of Utah.
Viewers, including Steve Robinson, former NASA astronaut-turned UC Davis professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, asked a number of questions. Lubarsky cautioned against opening schools during the coronavirus pandemic. “It is cavalier to simply open elementary schools without understanding this," he said. "We can't assume that because they may be asymptomatic and relatively less affected that they aren't less contagious."
Sykes said that although dogs and cas can get the virus, there "is still absolutely no evidence" that they can "transmit infections back to people."
Then came the surprise guest.
Professor Leal earlier indicated earlier that a special guest would probably bring the viewers to tears.
Dr. Anoop Maheshwari, pulmonary and critical care specialist in Riverside, chronicled how he turned from doctor to patient; from helping patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and then himself being diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease and nearly losing his life.
He suspects he may have contracted the virus in early April from a former healthy 35-year-old who entered the emergency room with a cough and congestion, and who wound up in ICU 12 hours later on a respirator.
The doctor remembers the onset well. He recalled feeling so tired after one of his regular 12-14 hour work days that he took an uncustomary nap at the hospital. Over the next two days, fatigue gripped him; he was sleeping 18 to 20 hours a day and had no appetite.
He wound up in the ICU, diagnosed with COVID-19.
"It was quite worrisome," Dr. Maheshwari told the symposium viewers. "I knew what was coming up next, which was intubation and you know the survival of intubation is very low with COVID-19 pneumonia. So that night was very, very emotional and very difficult. I talked with my family by video-conference and, you know, said my goodbyes. It was very difficult talking to the children, talking to my wife, mother, sister, father, everyone. It was an experience that I hope no one has to go through."
He told critical care specialist and longtime friend Dr. Adarsh Sharma that he wasn't going to make it. "He knew what I was talking about, and you know, he had the same intuition that I was not going to make it. And we're very close friends. He had tears in his eyes and you know, he just told me that I have to fight; I have no choice, I have to fight. You cannot give up on me."
Dr. Maheshwari credits the drug Remdesivir (then in clinical trials at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach), and the team of physicians and other healthcare workers, with saving his life.
"On Monday, April 28, all the doctors said that you're good to go home."
Sad Leal: "It's a powerful story. COVID-19 is a very serious disease."
Leal, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, hosted the two COVID-19 symposiums as a public service. The first symposium spotlighted the cutting-edge expertise of physicians, researchers, and a recovering COVID-19 patient. It is online at https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z. "You are our heroes," one viewer wrote.
The second symposium prompted a viewer to say: "It was a great symposium--the personal story of the frontline physician was incredible.”
Added another viewer: "Well, what an amazing finale and yes, we are taking it seriously, especially those of us older office workers. What a story of your life and death experience. Amazing presentation!"
"Congratulations on today's new webinar," another viewer commented. "It was excellent again. I look forward to the next one."
All systems are go.
The experts are ready to deliver their presentations and answer questions.
The second COVID-19 Symposium, organized and moderated by UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, will take place from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 14. Viewers can register for the free public awareness event and post advance questions on Zoom at https://bit.ly/2SUJ7t5. For YouTubeLive, the link is https://bit.ly/3b8TAau.
Leal promises that that the COVID-19 symposium will be educational, informative, and facts-based, but it also will include a "touch of humor"--as well as "some special guests that you won't want to miss."
"One presentation may bring you to tears," he said.
UC Systemwide President Janet Napolitano, a former secretary of Homeland Security, will deliver the welcoming address. She will be introduced by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, who delivered the welcoming address at the first COVID-19 Symposium.
Panelists are Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine; Dr. Atul Malhotra, professor of medicine, pulmonology, critical care, UC San Diego Health; Dr. Emanuel Maverakis, professor of dermatology and immunology, UC Davis School of Medicine; and Dr. David Lubarsky, vice chancellor of Human Health Sciences and chief executive officer, UC Davis Health.
Among others participating will be Dr. Jane Sykes, professor of small animal internal medicine (infectious diseases emphasis) and chief veterinary medical officer, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; and Dr. James M. Hotaling, associate professor, Department of Urology, School of Medicine, University of Utah; and several other guests.
Napolitano leads a university system of 10 campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories, and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program. The UC system includes more than 285,000 students, 227,000 faculty and staff, an operating budget of $39.8 billion, and two million living alumni.
Napolitano served as the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013, as governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, as attorney general of Arizona from 1998 to 2003, and as U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona from 1993 to 1997.
Former NASA astronaut Steve Robinson, now a UC Davis professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will be among those asking questions. Professor Robinson, who graduated from UC Davis in 1978 with dual degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering, saw Earth from outer space four times during NASA shuttle missions, including the 2005 Space Shuttle Discovery.
Leal said some of the questions will include:
- Can our pets place us at risk for contracting the coronavirus?
- Can we get the virus through sexual transmission?
- Can COVID-19 survivors get secondary infections?
- What research is underway on COVID-19 therapies, management and testing?
Professor Leal, a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a member of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology faculty and a former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, Leal co-chaired the 2016 International Congress of Entomology. He is donating his organizational skills and his cutting-edge technology and video-conferencing expertise to host the symposium. The first symposium drew some 4000 views from 10 countries.
“It is a pleasure to create these platforms to raise awareness and address COVID-19-related questions from the public,” Leal said.
The first symposium, with a welcoming address by Chancellor May, spotlighted the cutting-edge expertise of physicians, researchers, and a recovering COVID-19 patient. It is online at https://bit.ly/2VurK3Z.
One viewer wrote to Leal and the panel: “I just wanted to thank you! You are my heroes.”
“This give me a sense of hope and calmed my anxiety like nothing else,” letter writer Kim Allen continued. “To hear people, real doctors and scientists who are so knowledgeable talk about what is going on and why, is so appreciated. We need to know what we are contending with to fight it and be safe. You are all so much appreciated!”