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Coronavirus public health Q&A with Dr. Vinita Dubey (May 13)

Last Updated May 24, 2020 at 1:36 pm EDT

We know you have questions about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and we’re are working to get you the answers, straight from the most trusted sources.

Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vinita Dubey, answered your COVID-19 related questions in a live video interview on Wednesday, May 13, on our Facebook page.

Here are a few questions Dr. Dubey addressed:

(Questions were moderated and have been edited for grammar, punctuation and clarity)

Q: Could you explain the concept of convalescent plasma and also how is it effective helping to recover from COVID-19?
A: If you have COVD-19, your body will try to fight the infection. And the way it does that is by producing antibodies. That’s your body’s natural army that comes to attack the virus.

Once you have fought the infection, you have those antibodies that your body produced in your blood system — the antibodies are in the serum or the blood.

What researchers and scientists are doing is they’re asking for blood transfusions from people who have recovered from COVID-19. And those antibodies that your body used to help you fight the infection can then be used to help someone else fight a COVID-19 infection. And in particular, for someone who might have a weakened immune system or might have a really bad infection where their body is struggling to produce those antibodies, they may be very impactful.

Watch Dr. Dubey’s explanation of convalescent plasma below:

They’re hopeful that it’s going to work. To actually see whether it makes an important impact in people’s outcome is something that they’re studying now and we’ll have to see if it does work.

We do know that we can use antibodies that people produce for other illnesses. We we use it for other infectious diseases like measles and hepatitis A. So it is something that we’ve done in the past.

We make sure that when you get the blood transfusion that it’s cleaned and free of other infections as much as possible. It’s in a situation where you don’t have a specific drug that you can use to treat these infections that we try using things like blood products.

Q: Everyone is thinking about returning to normal, but in your opinion, are there things that shouldn’t be returned to at all? What are some of the new practices that we should keep going forward?
A: We’re actually going to be talking about the new normal. What’s it going to look like? We’re probably not going to go back to the way we used to do things before COVID-19 began because there’s always going to be that risk that you could catch this virus.

So things like physical distancing are going to be part of that new normal, keeping six feet distance wherever you can, washing your hands.

If you’re sick, even with just a sore throat and runny nose, you have to stay home now because that could be COVID-19 and we want to make sure that you don’t spread it to others.

If you’re elderly or you have a chronic health condition, you’re going to want to take even more precautions than you did before to make sure that you don’t get this virus. And if you’re in situations where it’s difficult for you to keep that physical distance, you’re going to want to consider wearing a cloth mask or a face covering.

Q: Children are being affected differently than adults by COVID-19. What symptoms should you look for in children?
A: What we find in general for infections is the very young and the very old can sometimes have what we call atypical symptoms.

Sometimes they can just be really tired or they’re having trouble waking up — a child that’s not running around or wanting to play, that’s worrisome. And that may not be something that an adult might have as a symptom, but may be something that a young child might have.

A child that might be acting confused in some way or not wanting to do their regular activities — those might be some other symptoms beyond the cough and runny nose that a child could have and are things to watch for.

Q: Are seniors who have taken the pneumonia vaccine better protected against COVID-19?
A: I definitely recommend that the routine vaccines are something that we should all make sure we stay on top of.

What people call the pneumonia vaccine is usually a pneumococcal vaccine and it is given to people at 65 years of age — it prevents against a severe pneumococcus bacterial infection.

Getting that vaccine is still important because when you get a viral infection, the virus actually could be the first infection you get, but you can get what we call a secondary bacterial infection. So that pneumococcal vaccine can help prevent that secondary pneumococcal infection.

So if you’re 65 and older, you should still make sure that you get that vaccine.

Watch the full interview with web writer Dilshad Burman in conversation with Dr. Vinita Dubey in the video above.

Scroll through the questions submitted to this session below.

Note: Questions were moderated before appearing in the chat window.