How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Impacted the Muscular Dystrophy Field

Donald Wood, PhD, the recently elected president and CEO of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the muscular dystrophy field.

Contemporary Clinic® interviewed Donald Wood, PhD, the recently elected president and CEO of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, on muscular dystrophy research and care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Alana Hippensteele: Have the focus and opportunities available for researchers in the muscular dystrophy field been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Donald Wood: Well, COVID-19 affects all of us. So, it's not just on a professional level—we’re all affected personally as well. I'm speaking to you, as you might imagine, from my home. Normally, I would speak to you from maybe a care center or some other place where the patients were. But nowadays, we're all home.

COVID-19 affects folks with neuromuscular disease, who are at very high risk—I mean talk about having extra problems. Plus, the vaccines that are available now are injected into muscle.

Well, we do not have clinical trials of how folks with muscle disease whose muscles are destroying, being wasted etc., how they're going to take the vaccine. So, we are keenly, as an organization, on top of every detail related to the understanding of COVID-19—not just as a vaccine—but how people are able to absorb the vaccine and get the benefit from it.

We have, through our advocacy groups, worked with the CDC, and you can go on our website and identify all the advances that we have in terms of information available for our patients and others. We’ve worked with the CDC and others to develop not only guidelines for delivering vaccine to folks with neuromuscular disease, but also to help identify, and our own researchers are evaluating every patient that gets a vaccine to determine, ‘Okay, how are they reacting to it.’

So far, we've seen positive benefits, and we are delighted with that. But like everybody else, this is not a scientific term, so I apologize, but we just keep our fingers crossed that everything continues to go well, and our folks get vaccinated, and do not have to end up with the disorder.

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