There are limits to how much we can infer about human disease from experiments on tissue cultures and lab animals, said Dr. Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Specific mutations in omicron’s spike protein, the structure the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, may help explain why the variant spreads so easily. “If it’s better at infecting cells, then the expectation is that it’s better at transmission," Menachery said.
Dr. Shawn Nishi, a professor and program director of University of Texas Medical Branch’s pulmonary critical care unit, said all COVID-positive people in the hospital aren’t there because of COVID. About half were incidental diagnosis in people hospitalized for things other than COVID. While hospitalizations from COVID-19 are not as high as during previous surges, more hospital workers are getting sick from the highly contagious strain, Nishi said. “Our division had not really gotten sick until this variant hit,” she said. “It’s just super contagious. We’ve been so careful. But despite our best efforts, we’ve had people in our division going down.”
The Global Virus Network featured the career and research of Dr. Vineet D. Menachery, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The article included an overview of the Galveston National Lab. “The underlying thread of my career has been using highly successful viruses to examine critical aspects of the immune response,” Menachery said. “By employing virulent respiratory pathogens including coronaviruses (CoV), I have been able to probe and identify host-virus interactions that dictate disease outcomes.”
The University of Texas Medical Branch
The University of Texas Medical Branch established in 1891 as the University of Texas Medical Department, has grown from one building, 23 students and 13 faculty members to a modern health science center with more than 70 major buildings, more than 2,500 students and more than 1,000 faculty. more »