FoMD in the News

A round-up of news stories involving the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

ROSS NEITZ - 30 April 2020

This is a roundup of relevant news and media stories involving the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. We appreciate you relaying information that is relevant to faculty members in your respective areas.


Global News: U of A works with AHS to make 3-D printed face shields

Healthcare worker wearing a 3D printed face shield

A group of University of Alberta clinicians, engineers and designers is working alongside Alberta Health Services to make 2,000 3D face shields that are reusable and safe. The U of A group said it received Health Canada's approval to manufacture the shields. Story also appeared on Global (broadcast), City News Edmonton, CBC Edmonton News (at 15:15 of video) and the Edmonton Journal.

CBC News Edmonton: Ebola drug can infiltrate, trick coronavirus from the inside, Alberta study suggests

Coronavirus rendering

The study, led by U of A microbiology and immunology researcher Matthias Götte, demonstrates how the antiviral drug remdesivir takes advantage of the coronavirus' natural life cycle, infiltrating its genome and effectively shutting down its ability to make copies of itself. Story also appeared on CTV News Edmonton, Global News, CityNews, Edmonton Journal, Medical News Today and the Toronto Sun.

Global News Edmonton: Health Matters: March 30


Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert at the U of A, speaks on a clinical trial that is underway to test the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and treating patients infected by it. Coverage also appears on CBC News and in The Globe and Mail.


Canadian Press (via The Chronicle Journal): Science summary: A look at the search for a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada

Thousands of scientists around the world are working on problems raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the search for a vaccine against the virus. U of A researchers are part of that search.

Macleans: How science is accelerating to try and catch up with COVID-19

Scientists are racing to catch up with a virus that has infected more than 630,000 people globally in four months. The work of Matthias Götte, professor and chair of the U of A's Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, is noted.

Edmonton Journal: COVID-19: Edmonton company developing DNA-based vaccine

A DNA-based vaccine for COVID-19 is being developed by an Edmonton company headed by cancer researcher John Lewis. Related coverage appears on CTV News.

CityNews Edmonton: Mapping the future of COVID-19

A new tool from the U of A looks back-and ahead-to help people better understand the pandemic spread. David Wishart (Science/FoMD/Pharmacy) is quoted.

Global News: Alberta testing anti-malaria drug as early COVID-19 treatment; U of A studying Ebola drug

A provincewide clinical trial led by researchers at the universities of Alberta and Calgary will investigate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in preventing hospitalization for people at the highest risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19. A separate U of A study examining the effectiveness of remdesivir for COVID-19 is also noted. Versions of the story appeared across the Canadian media landscape. A related followup story appears in EverythingGP.

CityNews Edmonton: Researcher to look at mental health of doctors fighting COVID-19

Occupational epidemiologist Nicola Cherry is measuring the mental and physical toll facing physicians handling the crisis.

Edmonton Journal: U of A study looks at public reaction, attitudes to coronavirus

A study led by U of A medical student Jack Underschultz looks to fill a void left by the dearth of research on the social aspect of public-health messaging.

The Bow Valley Crag & Canyon: Lyme disease-carrying ticks on the rise in Alberta

According to a U of A report, up to one in five Albertans bitten by ticks this summer could be at risk for Lyme disease. Once thought to be rare in the province, encounters with Lyme-carrying ticks are rising. Story also ran in Narcity.

iNews: Screen time for babies linked to higher risk of autism-like symptoms, study suggests

Story mentions research from the U of A that linked two or more hours of screen time each day to "clinically significant behavioural problems," including inattention, compared with those watching under 30 minutes daily.

Radio Canada International: COVID-19: Possible hope to fight virus from existing drug: U Alberta study

Continued coverage of the research done in part by Matthias Götte and Egor Tchesnokov showing that remdesivir, a drug created to treat Ebola infection, is effective in stopping a key enzyme of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. A similar story ran in the Toronto Sun.

Winnipeg Free Press: Science summary: A look at novel coronavirus research around the globe

An agency based at the U of A is helping develop and validate a simple blood test to predict the severity of COVID-19 in patients. The Canadian BioSample Repository will collect blood samples, and the U of A spinoff company Nanostics will measure the viral load in each sample.

Forbes: Spots on toes and rashes join weird new symptoms of coronavirus

Story cites a Twitter thread by infectious-disease specialist Ilan Schwartz about a frostbite-like rash called "COVID toes" thought to be caused by COVID-19 infection.

St. Albert Today: U of A oncologist turning cells into super-soldiers

Oncologist Michael Chu comments on a clinical trial he is starting this year to assess chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, a new form of immunotherapy to treat cancer.

630 CHED: How COVID-19 could affect the brain

Neurologist Jennifer McCombe is interviewed about her research into neurological symptoms that may be linked to COVID-19 and why the new coronavirus may be causing them.

Alberta Primetime: Mental health issues common in aftermath of Fort McMurray wildfires, U of A study shows

U of A clinical professor of psychiatry Vincent Agyapong discusses findings from his survey of Fort McMurray residents that showed rates of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and substance-use disorders increased after the 2016 wildfires.

CNN: The next pandemic could be even worse

In a story about the potential impact of future pandemics, the author notes that U of A researchers synthesized an extinct horsepox virus in 2017.


CBC News: How COVID-19 is affecting public transit use

Data from a popular trip-planning app shows a drop in demand, but not everywhere. Infectious-disease expert Stephanie Smith comments.

The Globe and Mail: As COVID-19 spreads, how safe is it to pump gas right now?

Touching a gas pump likely isn't any riskier right now than touching door handles, bank machines or anything else that gets touched by a lot of other people. U of A virologist David Evans is interviewed. Similar coverage appears in the Charlotte Observer.

CBC The National: Understanding the spread of COVID-19

Infectious-disease expert Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about how crucial the next two weeks will be in gauging spread of the coronavirus. Interview at the 9:05 mark in the broadcast.

CBC News: The flurry of daily pandemic data can be overwhelming. Here's how to make sense of it

Statistics and charts can be enlightening, provided you know the key context of what they show. Infectious-disease expert Stephanie Smith is interviewed.

CTV Alberta Primetime: How can we curb the COVID-19 outbreak?

Infectious-disease expert Ilan Schwartz is interviewed about the spread of the coronavirus and what we now know about that spread. Part of an earlier interview with global disease expert Nelson Lee is also shown. (No link)

CTV News: Why ventilators are so crucial in treating COVID-19 patients

Among the much-needed equipment to treat COVID-19 are breathing machines, also known as mechanical ventilators. Irvin Mayers, a professor of medicine at the U of A, is interviewed.

Arizona Family: Model Angie Everhart suffered for a decade after removing her breast implants

Jan Willem Cohen Tervaert, director of the Division of Rheumatology at the U of A, says contaminated scar tissue around breast implants may trigger autoimmune diseases and other health issues.

CBC News: Should you use a reusable shopping bag? Government, stores have different answers

As Canadians struggle with changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the issues being discussed is whether it's safe to use reusable bags for grocery and other shopping. Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger is quoted.

CBC News: Swedes' trust in government put to test as coronavirus deaths spike

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger says Canadian provinces have rejected the more permissive Swedish approach because most public health experts see it as inherently risky.

National Observer: Alberta plan to use smartphones to enforce quarantines raising privacy concerns

Infectious-disease clinical professor Ameeta Singh said she expects the vast majority of people would follow quarantine orders. "To be honest, I never thought that such a strategy might be considered in Canada, but sometimes in the interest of the greater public health, such measures may be necessary," she said.

CBC News Edmonton: 'We're kind of resilient': Fort McMurray using lessons from wildfire during pandemic

Psychiatry professor Vincent Agyapong, who has studied the impact of the wildfire on the mental health of Fort McMurray residents, said he expects levels of anxiety, depression and uncertainty related to the oil sector to add to the stress of the pandemic.

CBC News: Laundromat etiquette: A laundry list of best practices during COVID-19

Staying on top of dirty piles of laundry is helpful in preventing transmission of any virus, said virology researcher David Evans.

Maclean's: Comment: Is it right for doctors to deny patients unproven anti-COVID-19 therapies?

Critical care medicine specialist Raiyan Chowdhury writes the coronavirus crisis is a threat that needs urgent answers. Blanket avoidance of the use of unproven therapies outside of clinical trials may not be the right answer, but patients and the public should at least have a say.

Globe and Mail: Canada so far avoids surge of COVID-19 patients that paralyzed hospitals in Italy, New York

Infectious-disease expert Lynora Saxinger said there is a clear divergence in the trajectory of COVID-19 outbreaks in Western and Central Canada.

Globe and Mail: What are the risks of getting COVID-19 while driving around?

Virologist David Evans said he would only wear a mask in the car if there's someone else in the car who might be infected.

The Star Edmonton: What it means if Alberta's Jason Kenney bypasses Health Canada on COVID-19

Louis Hugo Francescutti, a professor with the U of A's School of Public Health and Department of Emergency Medicine, said Jason Kenney's grievances with federal bureaucracy may have a basis but that now is not the time to bring them up.

CBC News: 'Too soon to let our guard down': How Canada has avoided a surge of COVID-19 cases in hospitals

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger said physical distancing measures are "absolutely critical" to control the epidemic of the coronavirus in Canada, and that lifting those measures would have to be done in a way that is "very cautious."

Maclean's: Do any of the COVID-19 drugs being tested actually work?

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger said the threshold to offer unproven treatment is a lot lower in health-care settings where patients are suffering than it usually is.

CBC News Edmonton: How to sleep amidst COVID-19 stress

The difficulties of living through a pandemic can aggravate pre-existing sleep issues or cause new ones, says psychiatrist Atul Khullar, medical director of the Northern Alberta Sleep Clinic in Edmonton.

CBC News: Paper or plastic bags?

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger said confusion over the safest way to haul goods home has some people upset. "I think part of it is because there was a study suggesting that the virus is still viable on plastic after about 72 hours."

CBC News: Are dead bodies contagious? Your COVID-19 questions answered

Infectious-disease specialist Ilan Schwartz said it's possible that the virus could persist and remain infectious in or on the body of someone who has died.

CBC News: Is my mask reusable if I leave it out? Your COVID-19 questions answered

Adrian Wagg, director of the U of A's Division of Geriatric Medicine, helps to answer the question of whether long-term care residents should be moved to hospitals once they test positive.

CBC News: 'Your whole life is spent caring': Clinicians over 60 stay on the job during pandemic despite the greater risk

Louis Hugo Francescutti, a professor with the U of A's School of Public Health and Department of Emergency Medicine, said the pandemic is a great time to look at how to embrace technology-from virtual care and smartphone ultrasound tools-to make the health-care system more sustainable.

CBC Radio One: COVID-19 epidemic in Alberta

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger is interviewed about the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.

National Post: Outbreak of COVID-19 in Alberta oilsands camp raises fears of 'super-spreaders'

An outbreak of COVID-19 at a northern Alberta oilsands camp has sickened at least 12 people around Alberta, and there are "several" cases in other parts of the country, said Alberta's chief medical officer of health on Friday. Ameeta Singh, an infectious-disease specialist, said it was "almost inevitable" there would be outbreaks among workers who are in close quarters.

New York Times: Should you screen your child for celiac disease?

Comments from pediatric gastroenterologist Justine Turner are included in this article on the efficacy of screening children for celiac disease.

Calgary Herald: As Alberta COVID-19 cases surpass 2,500, experts say there's still a long road back to normality

"I don't think anyone should consider that things are really going to go back to normal for, honestly, a couple of years," said Lynora Saxinger. "We have to accept that sad reality and ask ourselves, 'Well, what kinds of normal should we shoot for and how can we do it safely?'"

CBC News Edmonton: How different generations are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

Psychiatry professor Peter Silverstone explains how people from different generations are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Conversation: Why Africa needs to battle unique challenges to keep coronavirus numbers down

Op-ed co-written by post-doctoral fellow Ejemai Eboreime on the impact COVID-19 could have on Africa and how to mitigate it.

CBC News: Should I be concerned about the outbreak at the meat-packing plant? Your COVID-19 questions answered

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger answers the question: What's the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a public bathroom?

Live Science: Could genetics explain why some COVID-19 patients fare worse than others?

Certain genetic differences might separate people who fall severely ill with COVID-19 from those who contract the infection but hardly develop a cough, a new preliminary study suggests. Shokrollah Elahi, an associate professor in the Department of Dentistry and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, who was not involved in the study, comments in the article.

CBC Radio One: The impact of disinformation in the age of COVID-19

U of A virologist David Evans talks about the impact on research of the spread of gossip and fake news and what gets research dollars.

Global News: Could Edmonton reopen before other parts of Alberta due to promising COVID-19 data?

New COVID-19 cases in Edmonton have been declining since a peak in early April. It is difficult to interpret a graph in the midst of drawing it, but "our numbers are not going up fairly quickly," said infectious-disease specialist Stephanie Smith. "I think we can be encouraged by that." Similar story ran on CityNews.

Globe and Mail: More than a third of Canada's COVID-19 intensive-care admissions are people under 60

Infectious-disease specialist Lynora Saxinger said younger people who are dismissing the severity of COVID-19 and advocating for society to be reopened quickly should understand most age groups are at risk.

CBC News: Can I catch the virus in a pool? Your COVID-19 questions answered

Ilan Schwartz answers the question: Can I contract the virus in a swimming pool? And Lynora Saxinger answers the question: Is blood being screened for the coronavirus?

The Weather Network: Canada's race to find a COVID-19 vaccine

Lorne Tyrrell, founding director of the U of A's Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, gives expert comment on efforts happening across Canada to find a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19.

Globe and Mail: How Canada's crucial data gaps are hindering the coronavirus pandemic response

From the beginning, Alberta has really done an excellent job of transparency in the COVID case data," said infectious-disease researcher Ilan Schwartz.

CBC News: Putting off kids' vaccines during COVID-19 heightens risk of other outbreaks

The Canadian Paediatric Society is urging family physicians and other clinicians to ensure young patients don't miss their vaccines. Joan Robinson, spokesperson for the society and pediatric infectious-disease expert at the U of A, said keeping children at home won't completely protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases.

National Post: 'Crazy idea' of infecting volunteers with COVID-19 to boost herd immunity, test vaccines gathers support

"Infecting people to build herd immunity is wrong-you do that with a vaccine, not with the virus," said virologist Michael Houghton, who is developing a coronavirus vaccine under a federal government grant.

Geopolitical Monitor: The problem with China's COVID-19 statistics

In a situation report on COVID-19 data coming out of China, Scott Romaniuk (China Institute) cites a previous comment by U of A infectious-disease expert Ilan Schwartz that "it would be possible that the virus could persist and remain infectious in or on the body of someone who has died."

Hanna Herald: Local doctor takes government announcement as a win for rural medicine

Lee Green, chair of the Department of Family Medicine, comments on the Alberta government's recently announced changes to the way funding for rural doctors would move forward.

Healthy Debate: There are many reasons why obesity puts people at risk of becoming critically ill from COVID-19

Obesity expert Arya Sharma and occupational therapy professor Mary Forhan (Rehab Medicine) comment on why obesity may put people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

CBC News: Why aren't we checking temperatures in public places? Your COVID-19 questions answered

Infectious-disease specialist Ilan Schwartz answers the question of whether checking people's temperatures in public places such as grocery stores would help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

St. Albert Gazette: How an Alberta text messaging program is helping people cope with COVID-19

Psychiatrist Vincent Agyapong discusses Text4Hope, a text-messaging service that sends users an inspirational message each morning to help them maintain their mental health.

CBC Radio One: Why the "infodemic" is a threat to public health

Virologist David Evans comments on why misinformation spreads so widely and so easily online, and what can be done to counter it.

Global News: How coronavirus affects women's health care: 'You can't do a Pap smear over the internet'

Jane Schulz, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the U of A, said COVID-19 has posed challenges to delivering adequate care for women. For those who are pregnant, doctors can ask about symptoms virtually, but often need to do physical checks on the individual that can't always be done remotely.

Global News: Brian Jean says Fort McMurray will bounce back after losing rebuilt home to flood: 'All this stuff can be replaced'

U of A professor of psychiatry Peter Silverstone, who studied the effects of the Fort McMurray wildfire on residents' mental health, said he believes there could be a post-traumatic stress disorder rebound effect due to flooding in the city this year.

Global News: Tips on housecleaning from viral experts during COVID-19 crisis

Virologist David Evans and oncologist Mary Hitt offer expert tips for cleaning and disinfecting your home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.


CityNews Edmonton: Bag Half Full YEG: Medical students delivering groceries

After having all of their classes moved online and many of their clinical rotations cancelled, medical students at the U of A decided to launch a free delivery service.

CTV News Edmonton: This free text message service could help you cope with anxiety or depression during the pandemic

With the province now under a state of emergency to fight the spread of COVID-19, Alberta introduced the "Text4Hope" program. Vincent Agyapong with the U of A's Department of Psychiatry is interviewed. Related coverage also appears on Todayville.

Global News: 'They're coping': Canadians in limbo on cruise with coronavirus, 4 deaths

Paul Major, chair of the U of A's School of Dentistry, was among the passengers stranded on a cruise ship in South America due to the coronavirus.

CBC News North: Medical students to become first residents in new northern medical residency program

Kajsa Heyes and Thomsen D'Hont are set to start their residency in Yellowknife in July. Both will soon be graduating from medical school at the University of British Columbia and were recently matched with the U of A's Yellowknife Family Medical Residency Program.

CityNews TV: Glen Sather Clinic offers to take patients with concussion, muscle injuries

The U of A's Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic offers to take strain off ER waiting rooms by video-conferencing with patients it can help. Coverage also appears on CTV Edmonton, Global Edmonton, and CBC Edmonton AM.

CBC News Edmonton: Leading with her heart: Long before COVID-19, Deena Hinshaw was making an impression

Hinshaw's heart is part of what makes her an outstanding doctor and public health leader, and it has been firmly in place, all the way back to her days as a medical student at the U of A.

Global News Edmonton: Lawn signs thank Alberta medical workers during COVID-19 pandemic

A group created by fourth-year medical student Tanya Schuman and her husband is selling yard signs that thank nurses, doctors, paramedics and medical staff who are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global News Edmonton: Generous Edmontonians offering free grocery delivery during COVID-19 pandemic

As more people are self-isolating at home because of the coronavirus, some kind volunteers in Edmonton, including U of A medical students, are offering to pick up grocery orders for people who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19.

CBC News: Meet the public health detectives working around the clock to stop the spread of COVID-19

There are now 70 contact tracers working at any given time in the province-a sixfold increase to the usual staff, who in normal times track the spread of other diseases, such as measles. New recruits include medical students from the University of Calgary and the U of A. Related coverage also appears in Global News and The Globe and Mail.

Global News: Edmonton hospital staff fighting COVID-19 with 'renewed commitment and renewed energy': doctor

As a critical care physician at the U of A Hospital, Peter Brindley is used to being busy, but working in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic has taken that to a new level.

Camrose Voice: Discovery Lab helps science geeks break out of university labs

Discovery Lab, a forum for spinoffs, startups and companies to find the support and expertise needed to launch, grow or rethink their plans, took place online this year. Biochemistry researchers Michael Overduin and Cameron Smithers began the forum.

Globe and Mail: Ottawa funds COVID-19 research project that is collaborating with Wuhan virus lab

Story mentions CIHR funding given to Chris Le, an analytical and environmental toxicology researcher, to develop tools that provide rapid and inexpensive COVID-19 screening tests in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the high-security infectious-disease lab based in the Chinese city where the pandemic began.

Daily Hive: Alberta university names plesiosaur after Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Students at the U of A have voted to name an ancient plesiosaur fossil after the health officer who's leading Alberta through the COVID-19 crisis. The massive fossil cast hanging in the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science will now be known as Dr. Deeno Hinshaw. Story was also covered by Global.

Hartford Courant: Meet the team advising Gov. Ned Lamont on how to reopen the state after coronavirus infections subside

The team advising Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on COVID-19 includes Charles Lee, director of Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, who obtained his doctorate in medical sciences at the U of A in 1996.

Global News Edmonton: Health matters: U of A experts create online mental health webinars

U of A mental health experts have created a series of free webinars to help various groups, including essential workers, develop coping skills. Psychiatry professor Peter Silverstone is interviewed. Similar coverage appears on CBC News.

Sherwood Park News: Virtual coffee chats proving popular in the Park

One format of a new program of coffee chats for a Sherwood Park senior living facility is a webinar series in partnership with the U of A. Adrian Wagg, director of the U of A's Division of Geriatric Medicine, spoke about COVID-19 in a webinar for the facility's inhabitants on Thursday, April 23.

Edmonton Journal: Edmonton firm donates $10,000 to feed University of Alberta medical students

The Rohit Group and the Covenant Foundation have teamed up to give the gift of restaurant gift cards to University of Alberta medical students who are helping reduce the spread of COVID-19.