Netflix's 'Pandemic' Scientist Sarah Ives Tells Us When There Could Be A COVID-19 Cure
An inside look at a San Francisco scientist fighting the worldwide disease.
How do you handle life during a pandemic? We sat down with Netflix's Pandemic's own Dr. Sarah Ives to ask some questions about her role in LIVEMEDAID, a group of global science leaders coming together to support the fight against COVID-19 this week.
As the Director of Contract Research at Distributed Bio Inc., she has been working to find a universal flu vaccine since 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Now, she's fighting to find a cure for COVID-19.
In Pandemic, Ives predicted a pandemic could hit. One month later, COVID-19 took the world by storm.
What do millennials need to know right now?
"Anyone who goes outside should wear a mask — if they have to go outside, you should wear a mask even if you don’t feel sick.” She went on to say that people need to follow stay-at-home orders and social distancing recommendations.
There is a "large proportion of asymptomatic cases and we won’t know how many until widespread testing is available for infected people and immunity testing for protected antibodies."
"If you just start hanging out with one extra person, that adds a lot of complexity to that network and the chances to get sick are a lot higher."
For example, you could come into contact with an elderly cashier at the grocery store or someone who has to take care of an elderly parent.
"We just don’t know how our actions are going to affect others. [...] Given that it’s a pandemic, we should err on the side of caution and do everything we can to keep the people around us safe.
"That’s essentially our responsibility as a caring, kind citizen."
What is your opinion on how Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed have handled the crisis? Could or should things have been done differently?
"I think they've both done a really good job. And as a result, we haven't met the hospital surge that was predicted."
"If it were up to me, I wish London Breed had put in the shelter-in-place order even sooner, considering that COVID was probably in our community since January or February — and as soon as the cases in Washington state came up.
"But [unfortunately] that’s not something that could have been foreseen."
What will young people's futures look like?
COVID-19 could come back in waves as a seasonal disease.
"This doesn't mean we won't be able to go back to normal and work. Post-pandemic life will look different than before. [...] But we’ll find new, interesting ways to interact."
How can we sort through the constant news and information?
"I didn’t realize there was so much fake news in the world until COVID.
"For anything you read — no matter the source — be skeptical. [...] Before you formulate your own opinion, check all of the facts before deciding 'this is good, this is bad, this person is wrong or right.'"
What makes antibodies the best treatment for COVID-19? When could there be a cure?
"Ultimately, vaccines are the best [option]. They are truly preventative. Vaccines have the potential to eradicate disease.”
However, it could take as long as up to 18 months to develop for widespread use and "it could take six to 12 months or longer" to get rid of COVID-19.
"In the meantime, antibodies are the best option because you can give an antibody to someone who’s already sick."
Her company will likely put out their first clinical trial in late summer or early fall. She hopes it will be available for "compassionate use" for anyone that needs it at the end of 2020.
Ives will also be a part of LIVEMEDAID, an upcoming virtual benefit event that brings together scientists, researchers, and musicians from around the world.
The goal is to raise money for frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19.
The event will take place on May 9 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. PST, on their site and social channels.