LSU Health Shreveport partnered with Film Prize Junior this year to support young filmmakers in the creation of Public Service Announcements to address fears and hesitancies around vaccinations, using their voices and experiences to speak directly to their peers and the greater community about this important issue. Below are the five short films the Film Prize Junior students produced: 

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Join the Club, Get Vaccinated
Directed by Hannah Evans
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Get Informed, Get Vaccinated
Directed by Nick Crosby

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Reunited
Directed by Joshua Valdez

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Hot Girls Get Vaxxed
Directed by Edward Webster

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Precious Memories
Directed by Kingson Willis

LSU Health Shreveport Responds to COVID-19 Crisis   

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MEDIA CONTACTS:

If you would like more information on any story seen here, efforts of LSU Health Shreveport during the COVID-19 pandemic, or are interested in interviewing one of our faculty members, please contact: 

Lisa Babin
Executive Director of Public Affairs, Communications and Development
Email: lisa.babin@lsuhs.edu

Jazmin Jernigan
Public Relations Coordinator
Email: jazmin.jernigan@lsuhs.edu

New coronavirus variant becomes dominant strain in NWLA

KTAL6 -  Local health experts say the BA.2 omicron variant of the coronavirus has been on the rise across the country and is now the dominant strain in NW Louisiana. “As mysteriously as the virus came on, it’s kind of evolved and become a little less problematic when people get it,” said Dr. Michael Sewell, Section Chief for Division of Internal Medicine / Hospitalist Program.

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LSUHS to no longer offer COVID testing at North Campus site

KSLA12 - Beginning Tuesday, April 19, the Center for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT) at LSUHS will no longer offer COVID-19 testing at its North Campus site. This change is due to the low number of COVID-19 cases reported in recent weeks. A look at the Louisiana Department of Health’s COVID case map shows the cases are low across the state.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Mass.

Boston25 - “We are seeing the prevalence of BA.2 increasing as the overall Omicron wave has crashed,” said Jeremy Kamil, PhD, associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. “It is spreading. It can infect people who were previously vaccinated, particularly if they didn’t have a case of BA1.”

Read More about COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Mass. (opens in new window/tab)
LSUHS COVID Team Coordinator discusses low rates in recent data

KTBS3 - Shelly Raley, the Program Coordinator for the LSUHS COVID Strike Team, says that circumstances make this current slowdown more calming than previous ones. "Currently there is no big delta or omicron that we see headed our way in the immediate future."

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Bill Cassidy photo

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy was instrumental in the receipt of this funding for LSUHS, which will enhance the impact of the Center for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT) as it is able to expand significantly in the new Center for Medical Education building. Additional medical education and research opportunities will yield enhanced economic impact to the region and the state.

Read More about Senator Bill Cassidy Secures $7M Federal Appropriation for LSU Health Shreveport Center for Medical Education and Emerging Viral Threats
What is the hybrid 'deltacron' variant of the coronavirus?

NBC News - Scientists have detected a handful of cases of the delta-omicron hybrid but say it's unlikely to cause a new surge. Dr. Jeremy Kamil, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSUHS says, "Delta basically grabbed omicron's spike protein. This is essentially delta trying to hang on by plagiarizing from omicron."

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In the U.S., Identifying Your Variant Isn’t So Easy

Bloomberg - “No tests can tell you for sure what variant you have without full viral genome sequencing,” says Jeremy Kamil, a microbiologist and immunologist at LSU Health Shreveport. In the U.S., current federal guidance prevents labs from informing patients or their physicians about the specific genome-sequencing results.

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Is an omicron infection as good as a booster? What the science says about ‘hybrid’ immunity

The Philadelphia Inquirer - In addition to becoming more abundant with each exposure, the antibody response becomes more “mature,” saidDr. Jeremy Kamil, associate professor at LSUHS.

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Omicron Offers Hope Pandemic Could Stabilize, W.H.O. Official Says.

New York Times - “Expect the next variant to come out of left field,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport. He added, “It’d be a hugely foolish thing for anyone to speak with excessive certainty about what’s coming in the next two years.”

Read More about Omicron Offers Hope Pandemic Could Stabilize, W.H.O. Official Says. (opens in new window/tab)
Omicron Surge - Severity, Testing and Treatments

NPR/Red River Radio - Health Matters: As the Omicron variant is surging in our region and across the country, Dr. Sanford Katz hosts this episode of Health Matters with guests Dr. John Vanchiere, Director of LSU Health Shreveport COVID-19 Community Testing and Vaccinations.

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LSUHS working with Mercer University to track COVID-19 variants

41NBC - Mercer University School of Medicine, in partnership with the Department of Biomedical Sciences and LSU Health Shreveport, was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The money will help to guide Covid-19 research about possible variants of the virus.

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Muhammad Sabir Mazhar/Anadolu Agency/Getty

iNews.co.uk - Jeremy Kamil, virologist and associate professor at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, told i: “SARS-Cov-2 is not going to become a ‘common cold’ / ordinary ‘seasonal’ coronavirus within the span of the next few months or even years.”

Read More about ‘Endemic’ Covid? The pandemic will only be over when the world is jabbed (opens in new window/tab)
WHO image of Omicron Cells

Today UK News - Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSUHS, agreed the world is now “well equipped” for the fight but viruses are always coming up with “countermeasures”. He suggests Covid could become more stealthy, like tuberculosis or HIV, with a longer “silent” phase of infection. (image: WHO)

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Health Matters: Omicron Surge - Severity, Testing and Treatments

NPR / Red River Radio - As the Omicron variant is surging in our region and across the country, Dr. John Vanchiere, Director of LSUHS COVID-19 Community Testing and Vaccinations, talks about how people are faring with this variant, testing and treatments, new isolation recommendations, and more.

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LSUHS team conducts record number of COVID tests

KTBS3 - The LSUHS COVID-19 Strike team and Emerging Viral Threats lab hit a record high with over 14,000 COVID-19 tests conducted last week. This is quite a feat, considering many areas across the country have had to scale back testing to symptomatic people only because staff members and labs were overrun.

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These Omicron Symptoms are Ones to Watch For

Eat This, Not That! - For many people, respiratory symptoms are the first sign of Omicron. "It's mostly that runny nose, sore throat and nasal congestion," Dr. John Vanchiere, the associate director of the Center for Emerging Viral Threats at LSU Health Shreveport, told NPR.

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What we know about the symptoms — and the severity — of the omicron variant

NPR - "It's mostly that runny nose, sore throat and nasal congestion," says Dr. John Vanchiere, the associate director of the Center for Emerging Viral Threats at LSU Health Shreveport. "The cough is milder [than previous variants], if there's any cough at all, and fever seems to be a little less common."

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LSUHS Moves Community Testing and Vaccination Activities  Back to Louisiana State Fairgrounds

Effective Wednesday, January 5, LSUHS will move its community COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts back to the Louisiana State Fairgrounds located at 3701 Hudson Ave. to reduce wait times and accommodate more individuals each day. 

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‘All the telltale signs are there’: Louisiana on cusp of another COVID-19 surge, doctors say

Dr. John Vanchiere, an infectious disease specialist at LSU Health Shreveport, agrees. “We are seeing significant increases in our positivity rates in our community testing and, unfortunately, also in our nursing home testing.

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Can faster testing for the omicron COVID variant help slow the spread in Northwest Louisiana?

Shreveport Times - Despite the increased attention of omicron, delta continues to be the main variant in Louisiana, however, Dr. John Vanchiere, an infectious disease expert and Associate Director of the Center for Emerging Viral Threats at LSUHS, believes that could change much faster than some might think.

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Do we need a new vaccine for omicron? Fauci says not yet, other experts disagree

TheBulletin.org - Associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSUHS Jeremy Kamil said he is “not at all convinced” that the current vaccines will continue to be protective “indefinitely.” "We just need to update our shot to show our body a repertoire that encompasses the variability at the key sites for neutralization"

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LSUHS experts use genomic sequencing to identify Omicron variant in Louisiana

KSLA12 - Sequencing is a multi-step process that includes using robotic technology to help make the process faster, more efficient and to reduce human error. "While this new variant has more mutations than others, her team is much more equipped this time around," says Dr. Krista Queen, Director of Viral Genomics and Surveillance for LSUHS.

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Getty Images: Omicron Variant

Shreveport Times - "The definitive 'are we protected' is not known yet, and won't be for a couple of weeks. Based on the sequencing and what we know about the protection of the vaccine, we expect there will be some protection," shared Dr. John Vanchiere, Infectious Disease Specialist at LSUHS. CDC updates on Omicron Variant

Read More about Probable COVID omicron variant cases are in Northwest Louisiana; more found statewide (opens in new window/tab)
Adrian Almodovar and Dr. Krista Queen, lab photo, Shreveport Times

Shreveport Times - Research Notebook: Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic scientists around the world have been working together on critical genomic sequencing efforts to better understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads and evolves and help guide and evaluate public health response. 

Read More about LSUHS contributes to COVID sequencing milestone for global database (opens in new window/tab)
image of proposed Center for Wellness building

Roy O. Martin III and Kathy Martin have donated $500,000 to the Center for Medical Education as part of a larger LSU system-wide gift supporting top capital priorities for the Fierce for the Future Campaign. The Martin’s gift will be directed to the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT) to be housed on the top floor of the Center for Medical Education.

Read More about Thanks for the Martin's Gift to support the Center for Medical Education
Pfizer booster study promising vs omicron, but time will ultimely tell

KTAL/KMSS - Local infectious disease expert and LSU Health Shreveport Director of Testing and Vaccines says the findings of a small study showing Pfizer’s booster offers strong protection against the fast-spreading omicron variant are promising, but it will be a few more weeks before we know just how effective it is.

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Doctors encourage people to roll up their sleeve for National Flu Vaccination Week

“It is very important for folks to get vaccinated against flu and COVID so that we can, prevent illness and death in the community and keep folks out of the hospital. And reduce the transmission of these to other people who may not be able to be vaccinated,” said Dr. John Vanchiere, infectious disease specialist at LSUHS.

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The race to decipher Omicron: will it take days, weeks or months?

Financial Times - Labs are scrambling to answer 3 fundamental questions: is it more transmissible, can it evade the vaccination, and does it cause more severe disease? Jeremy Kamil, a virologist studying Sars-Cov-2 evolution at LSUHS, describes his shock when this genome was released. “It was like coming home from vacation and seeing that someone hasn’t just planted a few flowers in your garden. They’ve remodeled the whole landscape.”

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Omicron variant much different than past variants, with more mutations

KTBS3 - Jeremy Kamil, PhD., a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport, says the Omicron variant was first found on Nov. 11. What the South African scientists discovered was that this new variant is a lot different than the ones that have been seen so far. "This one is very extensively mutated.”

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Omicron Undetected in U.S. So Far, Testing Biden Sequencing Plan

Bloomberg - While the U.S. is sequencing a much higher percentage of Covid samples than earlier, the bigger issue may be that not enough virus testing is done in the first place, said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport.

Read the Full Article in PDF

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La. Tech, Grambling, LSU Health Shreveport are partnering to learn how COVID-19 is spreading

News Star - Louisiana Tech University, Grambling State University, LSU Health Shreveport and several health clinics across the region are working together to sequence the COVID-19 virus to learn how it's spreading and if any new variants arise. Research from the three universities is made available for the public online at nla-health.com.

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LSUHS partners with Film Prize Junior for COVID-19 Vaccine Public Service Announcements

An official release of five PSAs created by five student filmmakers from the Northwest Louisiana area was held on November 22nd at LSUHS as part of a collaboration between the Film Prize Junior program and LSUHS, followed by Q&A sessions about this project.

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Dr. John Vanchiere, Professor of Pediatrics, LSU Health Shreveport (photo)

KTBS3 - “It's not an emergency, it's not a ‘got to do this before the winter’ kind of thing,” said Dr. John Vanchiere, director of COVID-19 community testing and vaccinations at LSUHS. “We’d rather have more young adults get vaccinated, than use boosters in that age group at this point. That would be much more effective."

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LSU Health Shreveport administers 100,000th vaccine  and Announces Availability of Pfizer Vaccine for those ages 5 – 11

The LSU Health Shreveport COVID-19 Strike Teams reached a major milestone today having administered just over 100,000 VACCINATIONS. Over 175 individuals have been a part of the LSUHS vaccine teams comprised of physicians, nurses, nursing, medical and allied health students, and the Louisiana National Guard.

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LSUHS infectious disease expert weighs in on lifting of mask mandate

KTBS3 -  As mask mandates are lifted across the state, the medical community is waiting to see what effects may come from the decision. Dr. John Vanchiere, an infectious disease expert at LSU-Health Shreveport, said overall, he thinks that it was the right decision. 

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Doctors: Don’t underestimate COVID-19 as Louisiana’s indoor mask mandate expires

KTAL/KMSS -  Shreveport doctors are urging the public to not underestimate COVID-19 as Governor Edwards has lifted the state’s mask mandate for at least the next four weeks. Dr. Andrew Yurochko with LSUHS says the virus spread has followed a pattern and therefore, one must continue to protect him or herself.

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New COVID variant found in Louisiana by LSU Health Shreveport scientists

A new variant of COVID-19 has been identified in Louisiana by scientists at the LSU Health Shreveport Emerging Viral Threats Center. LSUHS announced this month that the B.1.630 variant had been sequenced and reported by the center, though health officials believe this variant's predominance is very low and much less transmissable than the deadly delta variant.

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African American Celebration Committee hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinic with LSUHS

KSLA12 - “We can do it. We know there is no reason why we can’t do it. Most of the people who have been hospitalized or have severe disease now have not been vaccinated. We know that getting vaccinated reduces the likelihood that you end up in the hospital, at least 25-fold,” said Former State Representative Barbara Norton.

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LDH reports alarming increase in Severe Pregnancy Outcomes due to COVID-19

KSLA12 - “What we tended to see with the Delta variant is it has impacted our pregnant populations very very hard, especially at the height of the Delta variant we had transfers from all over the state of pregnant woman who were in respiratory distress and significantly decompensating,” said Dr. Caitlin Busada, associate program director of residency of Obstetrics & Gynecology at LSUHS.

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LSU Health Shreveport first to detect New COVID-19 Variant in Louisiana

The EVT Viral Genomics and Sequencing Lab at LSU Health Shreveport is first in the state to sequence and report that a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected in Louisiana. The new variant, B.1.630, was sequenced last week from two samples collected in Baton Rouge.

Read More about LSU Health Shreveport first to detect New COVID-19 Variant in Louisiana
FDA review of Pfizer data for child vaccinations could take weeks

KTBS3 - Dr. John Vanchiere, the lead investigator in the Pfizer vaccine study at LSUHS said, “We expect that to take at least four to six weeks of time. And Pfizer and Moderna are both starting additional enrollment in the pediatric studies in that 5- to 11-year-old age range, so that they can get more data under the research protocol to submit to the FDA when it’s appropriate.”

Read More about FDA review of Pfizer data for child vaccinations could take weeks (opens in new window/tab)
Immunobridging data used in Pfizer vaccine study for kids

KTBS3 - Dr. John Vanchiere, an infectious disease and pediatrics specialist and the lead investigator on the Pfizer vaccine study at LSU Health Shreveport, shares "Demonstrating effectiveness that is preventing hospitalization and death or severe disease is very challenging in the pediatric population, because kids don't get generally very sick."

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Delta’s highly infectious nature positions it to outcompete new variants, scientists say

Wall Street Journal - Some virologists believe the Delta variant evolved to maximize transmissibility and that its ability to spread rapidly will eventually reach a ceiling as more of the global population gets vaccinated. “It looks like this virus is already driving a Lamborghini right now in terms of transmissibility, so I’m not sure it can get much faster,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport who is studying coronavirus genetics. Read the full article.

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LSUHS Infectious Disease Professor sees signs Delta may be slowing in NWLA

KTAL/KMSS - “It seems that we’re past our peak of this delta variant surge,” said LSUHS Professor Dr. John Vanchiere. “Most of the rest of the nation is still in the climbing phase of this delta surge, so we’re a few weeks ahead of many places in terms of, our numbers seem to be slowing down on hospitalization side.”

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Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport addresses President Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more workers

KTAL/KMSS - “By November 1st, if people are not vaccinated then they would not be able to work inside of the various Ochsner facilities,” says Dr. Charles Fox, the chief medical officer at Ochsner LSU Health. 

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Lambda, B.1.621 variants: How many cases of new COVID-19 variants have been found in Utah

ABC4 - “We do not know whether this is going to be better or worse than Delta, there’s not enough information,” Dr. Andrew Yurochko with LSU Health Shreveport tells NewsNation. “Forty-four states have reported Lambda cases and WHO has labeled it “a variant of interest.”

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“Worst surge we’ve seen”: Some hospitals in delta hot spots close to breaking point

AAMC.org - Despite more than 70% of adults in the country having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 81% of people 65 and older being vaccinated, a dramatic spike in infections among unvaccinated younger people, coupled with staffing shortages, is testing the surge plans hospital systems developed for previous waves.

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LSU Health Shreveport physician that help oversee Pfizer COVID vaccine trial says FDA full approval is a milestone

LA Radio Network - “Those who have been hesitant to take this as a very important milestone that should allow them just to breathe a sigh of relief and go get their vaccine,” said LSUHS Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Vanchiere.

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Viral evolution 101: Why the coronavirus has changed as it has, and what it means going forward

StatNews - By cutting how much the virus replicates — both through preventing infections and by shortening the infections that do occur — vaccines limit the likelihood of additional, more dangerous variants. Says Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSUHS, “The virus has to replicate in order to mutate, but each virus doesn’t get many lottery tickets in a vaccinated person who’s infected.”

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Children caught in Covid culture wars as US politicians defy health advice

The Guardian - Dr. John Vanchiere, a professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at LSUHS, shared that caring for seriously ill children is always distressing, but more so when “we know the vast majority of these infections are preventable." 

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Masks required for runners at Falmouth Road Race

Cape Cod Times - “I would say (the road race) is probably minimal risk” for the spread of the novel respiratory virus,” said Jeremy Kamil, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSUHS, where he leads COVID-19 genomic sequencing. “It’s a lot of people running, breathing hard, but they’re breathing outside. The ventilation factor is enormous.”

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LSUHS to administer third dose of COVID vaccine for immunocompromised

KSLA - Emerging data have demonstrated that immunocompromised people who have low or no protection following two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may have an improved response after an additional dose of the same vaccine. No appointments are necessary to get the additional shot, but LSUHS suggests you come based on a schedule shown here.

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Pfizer vaccine study for kids younger than 12 continues

KTBS - With children headed back to school during yet another COVID-19 surge, many parents of young children are wondering when those under age 12 will be able to get vaccinated. Dr. John Vanchiere, lead investigator on Pfizer vaccine trials at LSUHS, said the hospital is seeing an increase in vaccinations for the 12-18 age group. As for kids ages 5-11, the trials are ongoing and expanding.

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COVID ‘Doomsday Variant’ Report Criticized for ‘Fear Mongering’

Heavy.com -  Dr. Jeremy Kamil, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at LSUHS leads COVID-19 sequencing at the institution shared that he believes a doomsday variant is extremely unlikely and that people should be talking instead about the importance of getting vaccinated because variants can develop when large numbers of people do not.

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Clinical Leaders address COVID-19 at LA-CEAL Town Hall

Dr. John Vanchiere, Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Disease at LSUHS served as was one of eight clinical leaders in Louisiana invited to participate in The Louisiana Community Engagement Alliance Against Covid-19 Disparities (LA-CEAL) Town Hall meeting which was designed to provided updated information on COVID-19.

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Parents encouraged to observe their child’s mental health as they return to school

KNOE - Dr. Shawn McNeil, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at LSUHS says mental health is as important and in some cases more important than a person’s physical health. He says some children are going through a lot of stressful events right now. including their sleep schedule changing, more expectations in a new grade level, or the pandemic, including mask mandates.

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Indoor mask mandate ordered across Louisiana

KSLA12 - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has implemented a statewide indoor mask mandate to combat the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant of the virus. Gov. Edwards made the declaration during a news conference Monday, Aug. 2. The new mask mandate is set to expire on Sept. 1, 2021, but could be extended if needed, the governor said.

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LSUHS awarded contract for K-12 COVID testing in 32 parishes

KTAL/KMSS - LSUHS was awarded one of three contracts in Louisiana to deliver FREE COVID-19 testing in kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) for the 2021-2022 school year. The agreement is in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) with funding provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

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Protocol for the fully-vaccinated as Delta Variant is spreading fast

KTAL - Dr. Yurochko, a Professor and Vice-chair of Microbiology and Immunology at LSU Health Shreveport, said by now one ought to know that “masks absolutely work” — and his stance on it is abundantly clear, citing Delta variant is more infectious and anyone who is more vulnerable or who has underlying health issues should mask up.

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In Louisiana, Vaccine Misinformation Has Public Health Workers Feeling ‘Stuck’

New York Times - Facing deep mistrust stoked by rampant conspiracy theories, local health officials are fighting for influence when the only sure strategy for beating back the virus is getting more people vaccinated. “It’s a lot of small battles in different places,” Dr. John Vanchiere said, “and every battle is going to be different.”

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In Louisiana, vaccine misinformation and Delta variant grow

Boston Globe - Dr. Jeremy Kamil, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSUHS, oversees a team of scientists reading the genomes of positive virus samples each week. A run of samples this week found the number of cases involving the delta variant had exploded. Dr. John Vanchiere, a professor of infectious disease at LSUHS said a growing public awareness of local delta cases was one reason his team was now vaccinating twice as many people as a month ago — as many as 100 a day.

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Local clergy and Vaccination providers are joining forces to administer free vaccinations to all citizens at TEEN FEST

Local clergy and Vaccination providers, including LSU Health Shreveport, are joining forces to administer free Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations to all citizens with particular emphasis on teenagers.  Also, other health screening services will be offered including blood pressure checks, COVID-19 Rapid Test, glucose/blood sugar check and physical fitness activities for the whole family.

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More Variants Are Coming, and the U.S. Isn’t Ready to Track Them

Bloomberg News - Given the patchy start to COVID surveillance last year, some experts have expressed concern over whether the CDC can create a system that will help bring the pandemic to a true end. Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSUHS, points out that the agency takes weeks to provide data from sequencing including diseases such as influenza, too.

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LSUHS Pediatrician on masks in schools debate

KSLA 12 - On Monday, July 19, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested all kids age 2 or older should wear a face mask. “The ages 12 and under, they are a vulnerable population and the argument from the AAP that wearing mask in schools will help lessen the risk of transmission and infectivity for those, I think is a very strong argument,” said Thomas.

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Hospitals responding to latest surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations

KSLA 12 - Dr. Jonathan Eaton, a critical care doctor with LSUHS shares his main concern during this latest surge in COVID-19 cases is the new age group being impacted. “The best thing we have is being vaccinated. Don’t think because your 30 to 40 years old you’re invincible to this.”

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Facts Not Fear: Top Shreveport Doctor Has Delta Variant Answers

KEEL Radio - LSUHS Dr. John Vanchiere talks about the medical community's growing concern over the new COVID Delta variant. "We've gone from a hundred cases a day to over twelve hundred cases a day," he says, addressing the increase across the state, "We're seeing a lot more infections now, locally as well as statewide. It's a big surge in infections."

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As Delta variant rises, so do second-dose skippers

Boston 25 News - Dr. Jeremy Kamil, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSU Health in Shreveport, Louisiana, calls the two-dose data very clear and very strong. “You can control your behavior and go back and get that second shot and do your part to protect our community and to protect our country from the pandemic having another big wave here."

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COVID-19 boosters likely not needed for first year

KTBS 3 - Dr. John Vanchiere, an infectious disease specialist and the principal investigator in the Pfizer vaccine study at LSU Health Shreveport, said they are now in the 10th month of the initial clinical trials and no booster is needed so far. “So our current look is that for the vast majority of people, boosters are not on the horizon, at least for the first year after injection.”

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Getting the vaccine gets easier, multiple agencies collaborate to bring it to communities

KTBS 3 - A mobile vaccination effort continued at the Renaissance of Allendale Apartments. This was a collaborative effort of multiple agencies: City of Shreveport, HUD, Department of HHS, LSU Health Shreveport and Shreveport Housing Authority. "The way that we combat that virus, the way that we get back to normalcy is through being vaccinated and I do not want us to let our guard down," said Shreveport Mayor Perkins. 

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Delta plus India: Scientists say too early to tell risk of Covid-19 variant

BBC World - Even with 166 examples of Delta plus shared on GISAID, "we don't have much reason to believe this is any more dangerous than the original Delta," according to Dr Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport. "Delta plus might have a slight advantage at infecting and spreading between people previously infected earlier or who have weak or incomplete vaccine immunity."

Nurse with COVID syringe

NOLA.com - “This virus can get past the defenses that our bodies made against earlier pandemic viruses,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist who has been sequencing variants at LSU Health Shreveport. Being infected last summer will not necessarily protect someone from being infected by the delta variant.

Read More about First case of delta-plus, 'double-whammy' variant of COVID, detected in Louisiana (opens in new window/tab)
CDC: Higher number of Myocarditis cases reported after second dose of mRNA Covid vaccines

Louisiana Radio Network - LSU Health Shreveport infectious disease professor Dr. John Vanchiere said cases have been the highest amongst men under the age of 18. “The cases that have been reported in-depth on, about 400 cases, they have said that all of those who’ve been effected have recovered.” (image from Amelia Heart & Vascular Center)

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Delta coronavirus variant: scientists brace for impact

Nature - The rapid rise of the highly transmissible strain in the United Kingdom has put countries in Europe, North America and Africa on watch. Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport, expects Delta to eventually become dominant in the United States, “but to be somewhat blunted by vaccination”.

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COVID vaccination efforts continue into summer months

KSLA 12 - Across Louisiana, more than 3 million doses of the vaccine have been placed in arms, while 1.4 million Louisianans are fully vaccinated — about 32% of the state. “The faster we can vaccinate ... the more difficult it is for these variants to emerge across the world, and we are seeing it,” LSUHS Dr. John Vanchiere said.

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LSU Health Shreveport receives grant for global response to pandemic threats

Louisiana Radio Network - The objective of the grant is to strengthen global capabilities to detect and respond to pandemic threats in the future. Director for Emerging Viral Threats at LSUHS Dr. Andrew Yurochko said the award is indicative of LSU Health Shreveport’s strides in detecting variants and assisting with vaccine rollout.

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LSU Health Shreveport Receives $730,000 in NIH Funding for Sequencing of COVID-19

Red River Radio - Work by Drs. Jeremy Kamil and Rona Scott along with COBRE principal investigators Drs. Andrew Yurochko and Chris Kevil has produced and shared 2,839 full coverage SARS-CoV-2 genomes, which amounts to over 60% of the SARSCoV-2 genome surveillance from Louisiana, and 1.2 % of the total US data submitted to GISAID which is the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data.

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Rockefeller Foundation announces grant funding to LSUHS to build coalition to detect and respond to pandemic threats

The Rockefeller Foundation - LSU Health Shreveport (LSUHS) is receiving funding ($340,000) from the Rockefeller Foundation. This follows the announcement yesterday of LSUHS being awarded $730,000 to further its work in genomic sequencing of COVID-19 through a NIH supplemental grant.  LSUHS joins Harvard and the Broad Institute at MIT among others in the US Regional Accelerators for Genomic Surveillance.

Read More about Rockefeller Foundation announces grant funding to LSUHS to build coalition to detect and respond to pandemic threats
As Vaccines Turn Pandemic’s Tide, U.S. and Europe Diverge on Path Forward

New York Times - The split is particularly stark in Britain, which is facing the spread of a new variant, while America has essentially lifted all rules for people who are vaccinated. “Globally, it’s a nightmare, because most of the world is still not vaccinated,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport. “It raises the stakes.”

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LSU Health Shreveport detects first reported B.1.617.2 (Indian) COVID-19 variant in Louisiana

LSU Health Shreveport has identified two cases of the novel COVID-19 variant of concern, B.1.617.2, which was first identified in India and is rapidly spreading around the world. LSU Health Shreveport sequencing also reveals that B.1.1.7, sometimes called “the U.K. variant,” remains dominant in North Louisiana, as is the case in the rest of the United States, as well. 

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Fully vaccinated can mostly forgo masks; shots still recommended

Daily Iberian - "What we know is that people who were vaccinated, if they do get sick, if they catch COVID, their symptoms are generally mild, and the amount of virus in their nose is generally less,” said Dr. John Vanchiere, infectious disease and pediatrics specialist at LSU Health Shreveport.

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Why second shot is critical for COVID-19 protection

ArkLaTex Homepage - “Why the second shot is so important, is the first one gives you a good response, the second one is better, and the third one gets even better and better and better. And so it just primes your immune response,” Dr. Andrew Yurochko, professor of microbiology and immunology at LSUHS said.

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brain cell image

Los Angeles Times - Scientists have found that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is capable of infecting two types of brain cells — neurons and astrocytes. Scientists have been trying to understand why and how it causes these issues in the brain, said study leader Diana Cruz-Topete, a molecular endocrinologist at LSU Health Shreveport.

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A COVID-19 patient receives treatment at a hospital in Bangalore, India

China Daily - "Despite a few mutations here and there, the virus is still SARS-CoV-2 and the disease is still COVID-19. Risk will be highest to the elderly, and to those in high-risk groups, such as people who are diabetic, overweight, (have) high blood pressure, or who have inborn errors of immunity," warned Dr. Jeremy Kamil, LSUHS associate professor.

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Jose Guzman-Wug, 16, received a COVID-19 vaccination on April 15 in Los Angeles, California, while his mother looked on. (All

The74Million - “Until you get upwards of 80 percent of children vaccinated, you’re going to have a hard time going back to pre-pandemic practices without some risk of illness and death,” Jeremy Kamil, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, told The 74.

Read More about Vaccines For Youth 12 & Up Expected This Summer, But Schools Unlikely To Require Shots (opens in new window/tab)
syringe

KTBS - Dr. John Vanchiere, lead investigator on the Pfizer vaccine study at LSUHS said, “The vaccine is effective at several things. Number one, reducing people from getting sick from COVID and spreading it to other people. Big time important is that vaccination reduces hospitalization and death.”

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Community Testing and COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

LSU Health Shreveport continues COVID-19 testing, while simultaneously offering large scale vaccine clinics and leading Louisiana in sequencing the virus from positive test samples. Testing and vaccine sites are located throughout Northwest Louisiana—including Minden, Monroe, Ruston and rural outlying cities like Tallulah. A concerted effort has been made to deliver testing and vaccines regardless of the ability to register or travel far outside of one’s home as “access for all” has been a guiding principle for the delivery these services.

Read More about Community Testing and COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts
Nurses prepare vaccine shots

KPVI 6 News - "A bit of low-grade fever, or muscle aches, fatigue for a couple of days, even headaches after getting your vaccine are not uncommon,” states Dr. John Vanchiere, the lead investigator on the Pfizer vaccine study at LSU Health Shreveport. “That’s an indicator that your immune response is kicking in."

Read More about Side effects, breakthrough infections attributed to vaccine hesitancy (opens in new window/tab)
People in line for COVID19 testing in Jammu, Kashmir by EPA

BBC News - A coronavirus variant identified in India is being investigated by scientists across the world. However, it is not yet known how far it has spread or whether it is driving the deadly second wave of Covid in India itself. Dr Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSUHS, says, "I doubt whether the Indian variant is more infectious than the UK variant - and we must not panic."

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MiGS image

Pitt News - “A variant is like a unique constellation of mutations while a mutation will be like one star in that constellation,” stated Jeremy Kamil, virologist at LSU Health Shreveport. “Alternatively, if a variant was a fingerprint, then a mutation will be one line that’s part of the fingerprint.”

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Center for Medical Education building draft image

KEEL 101.7FM - The local medical community has stepped up on several fronts to battle COVID-19 on the front lines and in the lab. The Commission has approved the donation of as much as $1 million dollars for the Center for Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT). This money will be used for a new building to expand the local medical school and for continued research.

Read More about Caddo Parish Commission approves $1 million to LSU Health Shreveport
woman receiving covid19 vaccine

KTBS 3 - "Those who are hesitant, and I would say that's the vast majority ... those who are hesitant, than refusing ... will see very quickly that their colleagues have gotten the vaccine and no adverse side effects or long term complications or other issues," said Dr. John Vanchiere of LSU Health Shreveport.

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Image of nurse with vaccine vial from BBC News Russia

BBC.com/Russia - Scientists from the United States and Argentina came to this conclusion after analyzing the neutralizing ability of the sera of those vaccinated with the Russian vaccine. But Sputnik still protects against a severe form of the disease, the authors emphasize.

Read More about Sputnik may be less effective against South African strain of coronavirus
Health officials focus on helping the homeless receive a COVID-19 vaccine

KTBS 3 - It's been difficult for much of the homeless to get to sites like the Louisiana State Fairgrounds. That's why Dr. John Vanchiere, an infectious disease specialist with LSU Health Shreveport, looked at all options, even transportation to get the homeless population there.

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vaccine vials in distribution machine

KSLA12 - LSUHS Dr. John Vanchiere said as a country we have a long history of producing vaccines and it’s normal for manufacturing issues to occur. The fact that it’s recognized and there’s a transparency to the reporting should give us even more trust.

Read More about J & J quality control issue might impact people’s trust in COVID-19 vaccines (opens in new window/tab)
Health experts turn to younger people as eligibility expands for COVID-19 vaccines

KSLA 12 - “If you can minimize the spread in the group that’s spreading it the most, you, of course, dramatically drop the infection rate,” explained Dr. Andrew Yurochko, a professor in LSU Health Shreveport’s microbiology and immunology department.

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Health expert speaks on vaccine apprehension, herd immunity

“There are still folks who are still a little nervous that the vaccine was produced in a relatively short length of time think the important thing to note here is the technology is not new while the vaccine is the technology is something, we’ve been working on for decades,” Dr. John Vanchiere shares.

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Multitude of coronavirus variants found in the US — but the threat is unclear

Nature.com - Ramped-up sequencing efforts are helping to identify mutations that might boost transmission or help a virus evade immune responses. For the scientists who have spent the past year poring over hundreds of thousands of coronavirus genomes, the United States has been an enigma.

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‘Now, it’s about trust:’ With more people able to get the COVID-19 vaccine

“LSUHS is adjusting our strategy to accommodate more folks,” Dr. John Vanchiere said. “I would like to see longer lines and more people there getting vaccinated. And we have (the) capacity to vaccinate more than 2,000 or 2,500 people per day.”

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COVID Variant Hunter: Even Vaccinated Should Keep Wearing Masks

NBC CT - LSU Health Shreveport Virologist Jeremy Kamil told NBC Connecticut Investigates that halting their spread will require other measures. Kamil was among a team of researchers that discovered seven new COVID-19 strains, known as "variants," aside from the variants first identified in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. 

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Dr. Michael Sewell - LSU Health Shreveport

Louisiana Radio Network - LSU Health Shreveport Chief of Hospital Medicine Dr. Mike Sewell said the current case fatality rate is far lower than it was this time last year when, according to one study last year, it was as high as four percent in New Orleans. He estimated we’re closer to one in one thousand cases.

Read More about Outcomes for COVID patients significantly better one year later (opens in new window/tab)
LSU Health Shreveport holds Saturday and Tuesday vaccine clinics aimed at those working traditional hours

To date, LSU Health Shreveport has administered over 48,000 vaccines as the first large-scale vaccine clinic in Louisiana. In order to accommodate those who work standard hours throughout the work week, and to maintain the health and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers, several changes are being made to the vaccination schedule moving forward. 

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The vaccines are working. That's why we shouldn't panic about variants.

NBC News - "There are certain variants that are more transmissible, and we have strong data on that, but the thing people should take away from the variant story is just: Don't let your guard down," said Dr. Jeremy Kamil, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport.

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hand holding vaccine vial

Four thousand three hundred (4300) doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine will be available during the twelve-lane vaccination clinic to be held at the Brookshire Grocery Arena located at 2400 Century Link Center Drive from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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Large number of Americans don't want COVID vaccines right now

KTBS3 - As more and more coronavirus vaccines becomes available, it's becoming clear that a lot of people don't want it. Whether it's reluctance, hesitancy or flat out refusal, a huge percentage of Americans are not interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to surveys.

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So, you got your vaccine. What should you do now?

KSLA12 - According to the CDC, medical experts are still working to learn whether or not the vaccine slows transmission rates, even if you don’t get sick. That’s why, for now, even after you get the vaccine, you are urged to continue behaviors that are proven to slow the spread of the virus.

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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards press conference

Baton Rouge Advocate - In Shreveport, LSUHS - in partnership with Christus Shreveport-Bossier Health and Willis Knight Health System - had been doing about 1,500 shots a day at a drive up community vaccination site. That was shut down Monday because of the storm, said LSUHS spokesperson Lisa Babin, and won’t resume until next week.

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Dr. G.E. Ghali to speak at National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine

We are proud to announce that on February 24, 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EST Dr. G.E. Ghali, Chancellor for LSU Health Shreveport has been invited to be part of a panel of four people on one of the Town Hall Sessions on the topic of Building Bridges between Public Health and Healthcare Systems to Ensure Equitable Vaccination.

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LSUHS COVID-19 Community Vaccine Site Receives Visit & Thank You from Governor John Bel Edwards

Governor John Bel Edwards visited Louisiana’s first mass community vaccine clinic to see firsthand just how well the community effort involving LSU Health Shreveport faculty, students and staff, Region 7 Office of Public Health, Louisiana National Guard, BPCC nursing students, CHRISTUS Shreveport-Bossier Health System and Willis-Knighton Health System is working

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Dr. John Vanchiere at media conference, photo by Scott Ferrell, Shreveport Times

Shreveport Times - Dr. John Vanchiere, professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at LSUHS, talked about the benefits of getting the vaccine and its safety. “We know that early on when people get infected with COVID-19, most people have no symptoms at all and that is one of the very critical features of this type of infection compared to influenza."

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doctor walking down hall in hospital

KSLA's Christian Piekos asked our local healthcare heroes to write a reflective letter to their 'pre-pandemic' selves highlighting the unthinkable challenges they'd face responding to the pandemic. (You have to be logged in to Facebook to watch the video.)

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video clip image of LSU Health Shreveport building

KTBS-3 - The Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats at LSU Health Shreveport plays a big role in COVID-19 testing and community vaccinations. But another important role it plays involves the identification of COVID-19 mutations and the variants they cause.

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Vaccines appear to be effective against COVID variants

KTBS 3 - “The quicker that people get vaccinated, the less chance of any virus being around and given the opportunity to mutate,” Dr. Ghali, LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor explained. “The longer a virus is around, the longer they're going to be able to mutate. It's a natural course in the development of the virus.”

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LSU Health Shreveport faculty address questions, concerns about current state of pandemic

KSLA12 - According to professor and pediatrics chair Dr. Maroun Mhanna, the COVID-19 vaccine takes about one week to 10 days to become effective. Therefore, it is still possible to test positive for the virus, even after getting the vaccine. Also, in order to ensure maximum effectiveness, it is important to get both doses of the vaccine.

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‘We’re in the dark’: The U.S. is way behind on testing for dangerous COVID variants

Fortune.com - Even the type of sequencing done in the U.S. has been lacking, some experts say, with much of the effort focused on finding cases of the U.K. variant, rather than casting a wider net for any variant, including ones not previously identified, said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport.

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scientist in lab

Bloomberg.com - Even the type of sequencing done in the U.S. has been lacking, some experts say, with much of the effort focused on finding cases of the U.K. variant, rather than casting a wider net for any variant, including ones not previously identified, said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport. “It’s the Wild West,” he said. “Every state, city, county is doing its own thing. It’s a bunch of random cats and no one is trying to herd them.”

Read More about U.S. Falters in DNA Testing to Detect Dangerous Covid Mutations (opens in new window/tab)
man holding a sticker that says I got the COVID-19 vaccine at LSU Health Shreveport

This week LSU Health Shreveport took a historic step towards stopping the spread of the coronavirus. In addition to continuously testing for COVID-19, the Emerging Viral Threat Lab has now organized the distribution of the vaccine to individuals age 70 and up. On the first day of testing, over 1100 seniors were able to get the vaccine from the safety of their vehicles.

Read More about COVID-19 Vaccinations at the Fairgrounds
Pfizer Offers COVID-19 Shots to Health Workers Who Got Placebo

Bloomberg - On Monday, John Vanchiere, the principal investigator for a trial site at LSU Health Shreveport, emailed 245 participants to let them know the COVID-19 vaccine trial would be slowly unblinded. By Wednesday afternoon, seven placebo recipients got their first shot, all of them health-care workers.

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Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine vial

KSLA 12 - Dr. Robert Rhoads, professor and emeritus chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health Shreveport, developed key components of the mRNA over years of work. The vaccine uses messenger RNA, or mRNA, which essentially provides instructions to the body on how to fight the novel coronavirus.

Read More about Technology developed at LSU Health Shreveport played key role in COVID-19 vaccine development
COVID-19 vaccine arrives at Ochsner-LSU Health Shreveport

KSLA 12 - “It is gratifying to see LSU Health Shreveport’s contributions to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through licensing of a LSUHS patent to BioNTech for mRNA-stabilizing cap analogs and in serving as the only north Louisiana vaccine trial site. Additionally our numerous COVID-19 clinical trials are providing access to novel therapies reflecting the benefit of having an academic medical center in our community,” shared Dr. G.E. Ghali, Chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport.

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video clip image

KSLA 12- “If the EVT Lab had not existed, quite frankly, I think we’d be in a much darker place here in the northern part of the state,” said Dr. Chris Kevil, vice chancellor of research and one of the leading minds behind creation of the lab. “The EVT Lab has been fundamental in our ability to monitor COVID infections in patients out in this community."

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Patients can experience Chronic fatigue as aftereffect of COVID-19

According to Sharon Dunn, the dean of LSU Health Shreveport’s School of Allied Health Professionals and the president of the American Physical Therapy Association, chronic fatigue is one of the aftereffects of COVID-19 on some patients.

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