MDI Biological Laboratory
General News

March 19 Update: Splendid Isolation Is Over

  • March 19, 2020

MDI Biological Laboratory President, Hermann Haller, M.D., is currently self-isolating for 14 days after arriving from Germany last week. As a physician scientist, he has experience treating patients with Coronavirus infections, is serving on several taskforces for COVID-19 and is consulting (virtually) with medical professionals on MDI and across the globe. Dr. Haller has been providing leadership and guidance during this time of uncertainty and worry, and we wanted to share some of his thoughts with you.*  

If you have a particular question for Dr. Haller about COVID-19/Coronavirus, you can email him at

*Note: the following statements do not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider for specific advice.


March 19, 2020

Good morning MDIBL,

I was getting used to it after six days of self-isolation.  I am still writing from COVE-7 but yesterday afternoon the hospital called and a friendly doctor simply said, “You’re negative”.  This means that within two seconds I was changed from a high-risk person for COVID-19 in self-isolation to the only person I know who definitely doesn´t have the virus. Interesting, how fast perspectives can change. Before this phone call I was anxious to be the cause of infection for others, and now I am afraid of getting the virus. 

In practical terms my daily work will not change much. During the last couple of days, the world around us and how we work has changed considerably.  Most meetings are done by ZOOM. There are not a lot of people on campus. The office is very quiet. We are still waiting for the storm.  

Yesterday, we had our regular MDI telecon with JAX, COA and MDI Hospital.  Two infections are now reported; one sick patient in Bangor and a positive test in Hancock county.  The first rain drops of the storm.  It is the same in Germany. At Hannover Medical School everything is prepared as doctors and nurses wait for the expected wave of patients.  We all hope that the water level will rise slowly.  

I get fewer questions about COVID-19.  It seems that we all have become experts in the disease quite rapidly.  This may change if we have more infected cases.  Please keep asking.

An important question is:  Can you have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time and is a co-infection more serious?

We have only a few case reports where extensive testing was done for both diseases. The reports clearly indicate that the two infections can be present concomitantly.  The patients described were sick and had pneumonia.  However, it is not possible to tell from these few patients whether co-infection leads to more severe disease.  We have to remember from all what we know an infection with the flu virus is more serious that infection with coronavirus.  It is the lack of immunity and the rate of infection which makes coronavirus so dangerous. In the future, after the epidemic, we will have accommodated to the corona virus with infections now and then.  But first we have to fight the rapid spread of the virus and lessen the effects of the epidemic.

Thank you very much for all the support during the last days.  I may see you on campus or perhaps we will meet at Hannaford’s, from a distance.

Stay healthy.

Hermann Haller, MD