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UW-Madison scientists join global effort to study coronavirus

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – A team of professors, faculty and students at UW-Madison are part of a global effort to study and fight the coronavirus, which has infected more than 83,000 people worldwide.

Dave O’Connor, a pathology and laboratory medicine professor, and Thomas Friedrich, a virology professor, are two of the people helping lead the research in Wisconsin. While news of the virus has developed into a daily beat, the professors believe people need to be ready for the long haul.

“We need to start planning for a marathon, not a sprint,” O’Connor told CBS 58.

Part of that marathon effort for the UW-Madison team will be on beginning the work of understanding how the coronavirus works.

“Where do they go in the body? How long does infection last? And where does the virus come out?” Friedrich explained. “Where does it shed from an infected person and how might that contribute to transmission?”

They’re not alone in the fight against the virus. The team at UW is collaborating with scientists and labs across the world.

“The work that we do here is really multiplied by the expertise of people who are all around the world,” O’Connor said.

While the ultimate goal is to develop a vaccine, O’Connor and Friedrich explained that process may take 12 to 18 months in the best case scenario.

Because of that, it’s likely that the coronavirus will continue to spread and O’Connor says people should take steps to get ready for a long fight against the virus.

“Do some preparedness. Imagine what would happen if you or someone in your family needs to be home from school or from work for two weeks to four weeks. That sort of self-isolation is going to be really important in preventing the virus from spreading.”

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