UW-Madison Medical School Dean predicts ups and downs with COVID vaccines, cures

Robert Golden offers cautious assessment of road ahead, as university announces new clinical trials

By Shamane Mills, WPR

As researchers in Wisconsin and across the globe try to find a cure and a vaccine for COVID-19, the head of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s medical school described obstacles that those efforts could encounter in a presentation on Wednesday.

UW-Madison announced on Wednesday it was one of 32 sites for a clinical trial testing an existing drug called ruxolitinib as a way to prevent a COVID-19 complication where a patient’s immune system kicks into deadly overdrive. Hospitals in Milwaukee and Madison are also investigating convalescent plasma from recovered patients to treat those with active infections.

A top U.S. health official, Anthony Fauci, recently told Congress that there’s a reasonable chance a vaccine against COVID-19 could be ready by next year. Dr. Fauci directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

But Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, asked a sobering question during a Wednesday webinar with the business group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce: “Will we be able to find a vaccine that’s actually safe as well as effective?”

Golden pointed out that vaccines can’t be developed for every disease, and cautioned that the new coronavirus could be difficult to outsmart because it mutates. This could mean repeated inoculations if a workable vaccine is approved, similar to shots against the seasonal flu. Read more …