Covid, Katie Shepherd, Taylor Van Zeiss Katie discussed on News, Traffic and Weather

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Stay connected stay informed This is northwest news radio 1000 FM 97 7 This week we may see the 1 millionth American death from COVID-19 According to federal health data nearly 190 million in this country have been infected by COVID-19 at least once Now scientists are hoping to study people who have avoided getting the highly contagious virus for over two years Katie shepherd has taken a closer look for The Washington Post and spoke with Taylor van zeiss Katie you profile a nurse anesthetist who may fit the bill of somebody with a genetic advantage over the virus Why is Bevin Strickland so unique So bed in situation is really interesting because she volunteered as a nurse in Queens in New York City in April of 2020 when that area of New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic and vaccines hadn't been created yet to prevent COVID infection So she was exposed really consistently over the 6 weeks that she volunteered as a nurse there And she said she was often taking her mask off just to connect with patients who are really frightened at that time when COVID-19 was still a really new disease and we didn't know that much about it and people in the hospital were really really sick And so she was coming in very close contact with people who had the virus and somehow she managed to never contract the virus She was tested every week while she was volunteering Never had a positive result And that's a very uncommon reaction to consistent and pretty severe exposure to the virus And you interviewed Christopher Murray the director of the institute of health metrics and evaluation at UW here in the Seattle area Why does he believe that people like Bevin are so rare So his institute has come up with a model that estimates how many people in the United States have had COVID-19 at some point whether they got tested and knew that they were infected or maybe had a very mild case or an asymptomatic case And they estimate that as many as 76% of U.S. residents had the virus at some point since the start of the pandemic in 2020 And that leads just a very small percentage of people who haven't had the virus And then within that group of people who haven't had the virus sometimes those people haven't had the virus because they've been very very careful in their boarding virus So that probably accounts for a good number of the remaining people who haven't had the virus And that just leaves a very small group of people who possibly have some kind of genetic predisposition that makes them resistant to the virus naturally And so once the genetic versus behavior question is answered what do researchers hope to do with this data when they dig down and find the genetic differences among us Is scientists do find a gene that is helping some people avoid infection that could point researchers in the direction of potential drugs that could help keep other people who otherwise would be susceptible to virus from catching the virus at all or it might help treat people who do get sick and make sure that they don't get very sick with the virus And they're looking for what in the genes of these people might be protecting them is it because they have a gene that makes their cells a little bit different so that the virus can't bind to certain receptors that allow the virus to infect other people who have a different genetic makeup and if they can find the mechanism by which these people are avoiding infection they might be able to develop therapies to help other people Okay you shepherd with us on northwest news radio reporter for The Washington Post and you can find all of Katie's work online at Washington Post dot com Thanks for joining us today That's Taylor van seiss.

Coming up next