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LISTEN: Physician-scientist Jeremy Luban reflects on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic

In a new episode of the Voices of UMass Chan podcast, physician-scientist Jeremy Luban, MD, the David J. Freelander Professor in AIDS Research and professor of molecular medicine, reflected on what researchers have learned about SARs-CoV-2 and other pandemics.

Throughout his career, Dr. Luban has been fascinated by the interaction between human cells and deadly pathogens—from the 1918 influenza pandemic to HIV, Ebola and SARS-CoV-2.

“This is a new virus. We never saw it before 2019. We are still baffled by it,” Luban said of SARS-CoV-2. “We’ve been learning as we go, and a lot of the confusion is because people are trying to simplify things and make clear decisions about something that we have partial information about.”

Luban explained, “The vaccines are extremely effective at doing what matters most: keeping people from being hospitalized and going into intensive care units.”

He also weighed in whether a yearly COVID-19 booster may be recommended versus periodic boosters.

“There may be an annual booster designed to target the current strains that are circulating. It may be that it will end up being the kind of situation we had before with flu where only those people who are at risk for severe disease will be recommended to get a vaccine,” he said.

Luban said once everyone in the population has been exposed, there’s a possibility we won’t need boosters.

The Voices of UMass Chan is produced by the Office of Communications at UMass Chan Medical School.

Listen to the full Voices of UMass Chan podcast here: Subscribe through SoundCloud, Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.