Q&A: Dr Barney Graham, Kansas Public Health Officials Respond to COVID-19


Kansas State Research and Extension and Lafene Health Center hosted Dr. Barney Graham, deputy director of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, and a panel of Kansas healthcare providers Thursday evening to discuss the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine and answer audience members’ questions. Graham led the team that developed a technological approach to the foundation of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

In the live webinar, Graham presented, “Rapid COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Why and How,” explaining the science behind the COVID-19 vaccine technology he helped develop. “With precision and speed, it translates into preparedness and response,” he said. “Pandemic preparedness and response is something we focused on, and the tools we have now allow us to do things that we couldn’t have done 10 years ago.”

Related:COVID-19 survivors, others reflect after one year of the pandemic “As soon as this virus was announced to be a beta coronavirus, on Jan. 6, [2020] we made an agreement with Moderna that as soon as we sent them the [genomic] sequence, they would start manufacturing RNA,” Graham said.

Graham said the technology he and his team worked with over the years gave them quicker, more precise results leading to a developed vaccination. Prior fundamental basic research laid the foundation for this rapid pandemic response, Graham said, and it wouldn’t have gone so fast if scientists had not pre-established public-private partnerships.

Read Now The panelists also tackled questions from the audience.

McKenney, who has owned and managed an independent practice alongside her father for the last 10 years, said she tells those concerned about getting vaccinated that she would never ask them to do something she wouldn’t do herself. Joining Graham in the discussion were moderator and Lafene medical director Dr. Kyle Goerl, Dr. Jennifer Bacani McKenney, practicing family physician in Fredonia, Kansas, and a health officer for Fredonia and Wilson County, and Dr. Marci Nielsen, chief advisor for COVID-19 coordination for Gov. Laura Kelly. Question: How have you encouraged vaccination among your patients, and do you have any tips or strategies that help someone feel comfortable receiving it?

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