The Fellows Behind the COVID-19 Literature Updates

What your doctor is reading on

MAY 18, 2020 — HIV clinical fellows Eric Meyerowitz, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital and Aaron Richterman, MD, MPH, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, collaborate on a biweekly deep dive into the COVID-19 literature. Medscape interviewed the pair to find out how they choose what to include, what they think of the quality of the science, and what they find most intriguing about SARS-CoV2.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you decide to start doing this?

Aaron Richterman, MD, MPH:  In early January, Eric texted me when there was a news article about this cluster of pneumonias in Wuhan to say this looks scary. I think he put “SARS?”. Eric and I are friends from medical school who through happenstance ended up as HIV fellows across town from each other.

Since then we’ve been following very closely. In February, I was In Haiti and this was when things were really heating up in China, and everyone was concerned that it was going to be more widespread. I was thinking, “Could this make its way to Haiti?” That seemed like a crazy thing to think about then.

By the time I got back to Boston, it was clear that this was not going to be contained. Within the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Brigham, all our routine activities were pushed aside. Everyone was in rapid preparation mode, and this was before we had any cases in the area. As part of our HIV fellowship year, we organize conferences and educational activities, so our clinical directors asked us to put together a presentation to summarize what was known at that point for our Harvard-wide ID conference.

Eric Meyerowitz, MD:  There was a moment, I think this was when Aaron was still in Haiti, and we were basically following this on Twitter and seeing it go from China to Iran and Italy, and then hearing about the start of cases in the US and feeling like, you’re watching this in slow motion.


How did you approach the first presentation? Was it decided from the get-go, that you’d work together?

Richterman:  I think the same email was sent to both of us asking us to put the first one together. I think we were asked because this was a new virus and we had a lot of background in HIV.

We spent a week or two on the first presentation. It was early enough where you could read everything, and we went through everything in detail. There was so much dogma and rumor, and this and that coming out. We tried to find the evidence where it existed. One of the silver linings of this whole thing has been the amount of solidarity that is felt through the scientific and clinical community.

We wanted to share this with as many people as would be interested. I was thinking about colleagues in Haiti and elsewhere. We publicized it, not really knowing what would happen, and then we got feedback from people all over the world who found it to be very helpful.

And it was also very helpful to us in anticipation of our own clinical duties. So then we thought maybe we should make this a regular thing.

Meyerowitz:  New York was obviously hit a week or two before we were hit, so we knew what was coming, and we were fortunately able to review just about everything out there the first time.

What’s been really exciting is how much has been learned over the last 8 weeks. As soon as we did the first presentation, there was already a lot of new stuff.

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