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Influenza and COVID-19 with Michael Ison, MD, MS

As flu season begins and COVID-19 continues to spread, Michael Ison, MD, is here to share some of his latest findings. He is part of Northwestern research teams running studies both on COVID-19 and on influenza vaccines and treatments.


Michael Ison, MD

"Thankfully, many of the things that we do to prevent COVID-19 are also helpful for preventing the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses. If you look at what happened in the southern hemisphere, like Australia and New Zealand and South America ... they just finished their flu season and they had some of the lowest numbers of cases of flu since we've been recording the number of cases."

—  Michael Ison, MD, MS

  • Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Professor of Surgery in the Division of Organ Transplantation
  • Director of the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute’s Center for Clinical Research
  • Member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Episode Notes

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, influenza season is just beginning in the United States. There is growing concern that an increase in clinic visits and hospitalizations due to the flu or COVID-19 could overwhelm healthcare systems in the months ahead, but there are things people can do to help prevent this scenario, says Michael Ison, MD, MS. Getting a flu shot and continuing to wear a mask in public and to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene are all ways to help protect yourself and others this fall and winter, he says. 

Over the past 200-plus days, Ison has been devoting much of his time and expertise to understanding COVID-19 and to advancing new treatments. He is involved in clinical drug trials for COVID-19 and the use of convalescent plasma as a potentially beneficial therapeutic for the disease. He is also the chair of the Data Safety Monitoring Board for National Institute of Health trials, which included the study that led to the FDA's emergency use authorization of the drug remdesivir in COVID-19 patients.

Some of the topics covered in this episode include:

  • How Northwestern Medicine scientists and physicians have been involved in COVID-19 care, experimental treatments and other related studies over the past seven months. 

  • Insight on President Donald Trump's diagnosis of COVID-19 and treatment strategy.
  • Lack of transparency in how remdesivir was initially distributed to states. Ison wrote a JAMA editorial about this issue and discusses how transparency will be needed when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed and distributed across the country.

  • How Ison adapted a current project studying influenza to instead collect blood samples from patients with COVID-19. 

  • Why getting a flu shot is ideal now, while COVID-19 cases are low in Chicago and flu season is just beginning.

  • Optimism about the mild flu season in the southern hemisphere.

  • Results of a study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases that found patients with influenza at risk of complications recovered more quickly after early treatment with a newer influenza antiviral drug, baloxavir marboxil.
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Recorded October 5, 2020.

Continuing Medical Education Credit

Physicians who listen to this podcast may claim continuing medical education credit after listening to an episode of this program.

Target Audience

Academic/Research, Multiple specialties

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the research interests and initiatives of Feinberg faculty.
  2. Discuss new updates in clinical and translational research.
Accreditation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine designates this Enduring Material for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure Statement

Michael Ison, MD, MS, has disclosed financial relationships with UpToDate and Shionogi. Course director, Robert Rosa, MD, has nothing to disclose. Planning committee member, Erin Spain, has nothing to disclose. Feinberg School of Medicine's CME Leadership and Staff have nothing to disclose: Clara J. Schroedl, MD, Medical Director of CME, Sheryl Corey, Manager of CME, Jennifer Banys, Senior Program Administrator, Allison McCollum, Senior Program Coordinator, and Rhea Alexis Banks, Administrative Assistant 2.

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