When it comes to understanding something as complex as the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s good to have a friend on the inside, at the cutting edge of research and policy. Dr. Donald Vinh ’92 has become that person, popping up on Montreal television whenever there are pandemic questions to be answered.
On March 11, it was announced that Don has been appointed to a $2.7-M study launched by the Canadian government’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF). This multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary research team is investigating the disproportionately high incidence of COVID-19 among residents of Quebec’s long-term care facilities.
Don sits on the panel by virtue of his position as an infectious disease and immunity expert at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and an associate professor at McGill University. “We still do not understand why some long-term care residents have gotten so sick and died of COVID-19, whereas others, at the same facility, have had milder versions of the disease or have not been infected at all,” he says.
Sometimes called “the medical detective,” or “Dr. House,” Don made the news two years ago for diagnosing a 30-year-old patient with a rare disease that had caused chronic illnesses all the man’s life. Don and his staff at the McGill University Health Complex Research Institute proved that this condition had a genetic cause. Don labelled the disease CID, or combined immunodeficiency.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, Don’s attention has been devoted to the pandemic. In addition to speaking to the media, on Dec. 9 he shared his knowledge directly with Selwyn House students in an online question-and-answer session.