March 24, 2020
The world has really changed over the last couple of days. I have made it back to Hannover, but as I was flying back to Germany, I saw deserted airports, almost empty planes and nobody came near me. It made me think that it was more like “social shouting” — though it is reassuring to see that people are taking the situation seriously and that social distancing is actually working.
Back in Hannover, we have prepared at the medical school for 140 patients in ICU and have a backup for more in hospitals nearby. Presently, we have 6 patients with COVID-19 in ICU and none in the other wards in the hospital. The German CDC announced yesterday, with all caution, that while there is still an increase in cases the curve does seem to be flattening out. I hope we begin to see signs of flattening in other countries soon too.
The long-lasting effects of the epidemic that were predicted are beginning to surface. Small companies are having financial problems; people are losing their jobs. Thankfully MDIBL is doing well. In fact, before the epidemic arrived, we had had a very positive start to 2020: we recruited new faculty member Prayag Murawala, Ph.D., (his new lab website went live yesterday!) and are in talks with two more talented candidates. We recently received an incredibly generous gift from a long-time supporter and are excited to be preparing for our 100th anniversary of moving to Salisbury Cove in 2021.
I am encouraged that the future looks promising, but for now we are very focused on the present. Open and enhanced communication remains the key to keeping things going – MDIBL senior staff and leadership continue to meet via Zoom daily, and I will be regularly calling in to a biweekly teleconference for biomedical institutions on MDI. We also will host the MDIBL all staff meeting this afternoon – online for the first time ever – I look forward to answering your burning questions.