SARS-CoV-2 viral infection as it spread to pandemic levels presented a number of challenges to health systems and the well-being of society which required the presentation of evidence-based information on COVID-19.
The Department of Pharmacy started an initiative on the 23 March of a series of webinars to present developing scientific evidence and reflect on current practices and applications in different countries.
The webinars are delivered by Prof. Anthony Serracino-Inglott with the guest participation of panellists including Dr Christopher Barbara, Prof. John J. Borg, Prof. Michael Borg, Prof. Mark Brincat, Prof. Neville Calleja, Hon. Dr Deo Debattista, Prof. Charmaine Gauci, Prof. Victor Grech, Prof. Stephen Montefort, Prof. Yves Muscat Baron, Prof. Robert Nistico, Prof. Patrizia Santi, Prof. Christian Scerri, Dr Maurice Zarb Adami, and Dr Joseph Zarb Adami.
The webinars serve as a platform to present the international evolving scientific background to actions in responding and managing the COVID-19 Pandemic. The panellists brainstorm the scientific approach to strategies employed in the practice, research and management activities and initiatives related to COVID-19 pandemic.
Seven webinar topics have so far been presented, covering the pathology and presentation of the infection, the rationale for compassionate use of medicines including hydroxychloroquine and tocilizumab, on-going clinical trials for new antivirals such as for remdesivir, medical devices including use of personal protective equipment, scientific-evidence related to containment measures, laboratory investigations and interpretation and the development of vaccines.
Each webinar has been followed by an average of 250 participants. Participants include pharmacy and medical students of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, pharmacists, physicians and academics from Malta, other European countries and the international scenario. Feedback from the participants is that the webinars put forward a concise analysis of the scientific evidence and provided a platform for a discussion and sharing of experiences and data.
Prof. Serracino-Inglott commented on why the initiative has been so much of a success, saying that discussion about COVID-19 is so alive because it is a unique virus with unique characteristics, and it required people from all walks of life to make big shifts in norms and lifestyles, and put medical professionals under the spotlight.
The webinars are held at 21:00 and each series starts on Monday. Interested participants are requested to contact the Pharmacy Department to register. The eighth webinar starting on Monday 11 May focuses on The Affordability Crisis, Lockdown, Health and Well-Being: What's next?