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Lead Impact: The Race to a Vaccine for COVID-19 With Dr. Gary Wong and Dr. Robert Kozak

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PostedApril 2, 2020

Episode Summary

With hundreds of new COVID-19 cases everyday, will we ever find a solution? Host Ethan Astaneh speaks with Dr. Gary Wong and Dr. Rob Kozak about the process, challenges and journey to creating the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Kozak is a Clinical Microbiologist working out of Sunnybrook in Toronto. It was his team that isolated the COVID-19 virus, making the vaccine possible. Dr. Wong is a Virologist and faculty member of Infectious Disease Research at the University of Laval. He’s currently in China where he traveled to work on the frontlines, running a testing centre near Hubei, while studying the virus.

Focused on COVID-19 now, both worked on the team that developed the Ebola vaccine and provide a unique perspective on creating a vaccine in the midst of a pandemic.

Key Takeaways

About today’s episode.
Dr. Wong gives an introduction to himself and shares what it is that he’s currently doing with respect to COVID-19.
Dr. Kozak gives an introduction to himself as well and shares what he currently is doing with regards to COVID-19.
Who is coordinating the efforts between Sunnybrook and other hospitals?
How did Rob get into medicine and ultimately get to where he is today?
Gary shares how he ended up in his field and where he currently is today.
Dr. Kozak gives the Canadian perspective on some of the challenges in testing for viruses such as COVID-19.
Dr. Wong adds on to Kozak’s thoughts and provides a perspective from more of a Chinese POV.
To what degree is information and data being shared amongst different groups and individuals in their field? And how might that be different in today’s environment than say, if we were dealing with it 10-15 years ago?
At what point does the testing phase become the vaccine-creation phase? And what are some of the challenges of continuing to do the proper due diligence in the testing phase while the virus continues to transmit incredibly fast?
Does Dr. Wong and Dr. Kozak think that at this early stage of the virus that we have a good handle on its transmission? And do they believe that the virus may have the ability to mutate?
Both doctors give an idea of general expectations we should have around the virus and vaccine.
If we end up identifying a vaccine, might it look different in the future? I.e. will it continue to be researched and updated?
If, by the end of the year, we have a number of vaccines available, how will distribution and deployment of them work? How will it be mass-produced and circulated around the world? Dr. Wong and Dr. Kazak speak about this process, the challenges, as well as how it may have been different 10-15 years ago.
Both doctors reflect on their experiences navigating ebola together. They also share how this current virus is different.
Do both doctors feel that it’s only a matter of time before a vaccine is released worldwide?
Dr. Wong and Dr. Kazak both share some of their perspectives and experiences working close to the frontlines.
Ethan thanks Dr. Gary Wong and Dr. Rob Kozak for their efforts as well as for joining the podcast!

Mentioned in this episode

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center

Episode Featured on:

The Wealth Exchange

The Wealth Exchange podcast provides insight, innovation, and access to the experts on a wide range of topics affecting affluent families across Canada. Join our team of hosts as they sit down with leaders and changemakers from around the globe to discuss investing, leadership, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and more.

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Guest Bio

Dr. Gary Wong

Dr. Wong is a Virologist and faculty member of Infectious Disease Research at the University of Laval.  He’s currently in Shanghai, China where he traveled to work on the frontlines, running a testing centre near Hubei province, during the peak of the outbreak in China and is now focusing his efforts on the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

He received his Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology from the University of Manitoba in 2014 and carried out his research with the Special Pathogens Program at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Dr. Rob Kozak

Dr. Kozak is a Clinical Microbiologist with over 13 years of experience working within multi-disciplinary teams on Biosafety Level 2, 3, and 4 human pathogens in research and public health settings. His current research interests are in developing vaccines for viral zoonotic diseases, creating next-generation diagnostic assays, and optimizing oncolytic viruses for cancer therapy.

For his full bio, visit: LinkedIn/com/in/RobKozak1

About The Host - Ethan Astaneh

Ethan is a Financial Advisor in the firm’s Vancouver office and is the host of the Wealth Exchange podcast’s Lead Impact and Market Commentary segments. He provides strategic advice to high net worth business owners, professionals, and retirees, and offers his clients a wide range of financial services, including; retirement income planning, business succession, and continuation planning, investment management, tax and estate planning, charitable giving, and intergenerational wealth transfer.

For his full bio, visit: nicolawealth.local/Our-Team/Ethan-Astaneh


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