Carsten Thiel’s thoughts on COVID-19

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has revealed a health emergency that could span the globe. Its name is COVID-19, and it comes from a family of viruses that already exist in people and some animals. Although it’s very uncommon for the virus to spread from animals to people, there are reports of the initial contagion from a live animal and seafood market in China. But there are also reports of virus patients who have had no contact with the market. That means the virus is now spreading from person to person. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, much like the common cold, and like the cold, it has similar symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and fever. These afflictions materialize from two to fourteen days after exposure. People that travel outside the country have a higher chance of catching the virus.

COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019 and, to date, has made it to 31 other countries, including the U.S. The total worldwide death toll as of February 25, 2020, is 2,462. Although it is a disease that’s spread through the respiratory tract, many cases in the U.K. and EU/EEA show no link to respiratory transmission. As a result of the spread, countries the world over are imposing extreme restrictions on their citizenry. Workplace and school closing are common suggestions as well as isolation. The virus has not gone unnoticed by major pharmaceutical companies. Vaccine efforts are in play around the world by companies such as EUSA Pharma. The companies European commercialization president, Carsten Thiel, estimates as many as 60% of socially active people will contract COVID-19. He speculates that warm spring temperatures in May might slow the infection, but the winter months could usher in a new wave. That makes a vaccine introduction critical to generate immunity.

To contain the virus, President Donald Trump has plans to meet with pharmaceutical CEOs. Trump wants these companies to move faster on vaccine development, and they are doing just that. Johnson and Johnson is one example. It is working with another drug company, Janssen Pharmaceutical, to create vaccines and antiviral therapies to deal with COVID-19. European drug companies are also working towards a cure. APEIRON Biologics is a company that works on novel cancer immunotherapies. Now it is using its expertise to start a pilot clinical trial to combat the virus. To address COVID-19, some people are taking proper precautions or not doing anything at all. In other words, some don’t care, according to Carsten Thiel. That attitude has had its effect. Italy is a good example. The country is desperately trying to keep up with the demands placed on its healthcare system, which has stretched to the breaking point. Doctors and nurses are scrambling to find protective clothing, often to no avail.

Thiel is a native of Berlin, Germany, and spent his childhood in the company of his parents, who were both in the medical field. A biology class sparked Carsten Thiel’s passion for medicine and science. He has a bachelor of science from the University of Bristol in biochemistry and a doctoral degree from Max Planck Society. His career began with Hoffmann-la Roche, a Swiss healthcare company where he worked in marketing and communications. Next was Eurofins Scientific as the worldwide director of marketing. Then he moved on to Amgen as a franchise head of oncology/hematology. Thiel moved on to Alexion Pharmaceuticals as senior vice president for Europe. All of this expertise has led him to EUSA where is works still. Although the focus of Carsten Thiel and EUSA usually is on rare disease and oncology, they have committed themselves to combat the virus.

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