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Seven late-breaking sessions at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo address the game-changing topic of SARS-CoV-2, exploring the virology and characteristics of this novel virus and the recent landscape of testing and therapeutics. “Each of these scientific sessions will provide attendees a much deeper understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of the various tests that are being performed for SARS-CoV-2, from molecular to serology,” Paul Jannetto, PhD, DABCC, FAACC, chair of the Annual Meeting Organizing Committee (AMOC), told CLN Stat.

Participants will gain a deeper comprehension of how this virus differs from others and of current treatment strategies.

The postponement of the 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo from July to December underscored the importance of providing the latest scientific information on the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jannetto. AMOC wanted to highlight timely and novel research on antibody/antigen testing, therapeutic strategies, and the latest information about a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.

The panel also wanted to include a general session on virology and diagnostic paradigms, supply chain and laboratory testing issues, and the role of clinical labs in global pandemics. “As a result, the AMOC actively recruited experts in each of these areas who graciously agreed to provide attendees the cutting-edge scientific information around each of these relevant topics,” said Jannetto.

In a special session on Tuesday, December 15, Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett P. Giroir, MD, who coordinates SARS-CoV-2 testing efforts across the Department of Health and Human Services, will discuss the past, present, and future of SARS-CoV-2. This session will take place from 4:30–5:30 p.m. (U.S. Central Standard Time)

Jannetto is also looking forward to the Chair’s Invited Session this year, Pandemic Preparedness: The Role of Clinical Laboratories and Public Health in Controlling Outbreaks Representing a Global Health Threat (32113). His colleague Matthew Binnicker, PhD, director of clinical virology at Mayo Clinic, will be talking about the role of clinical labs and public health in controlling global outbreaks and what laboratories can do to be better prepared for the next pandemic. This presentation takes place on Monday, December 14, from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Other sessions on COVID-19 include:

SARS-CoV-2 Virology, Kinetics, Diagnostics and Containment (32115)

Monday, December 14, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

The session will address SARS-CoV-2’s relationship to other coronaviruses and discuss its structure, function, clinical impact, replication kinetics, transmissibility, and molecular epidemiology. Session presenters will review the characteristics and kinetics of specific antibodies triggered by infection and discuss tests that detect these antibodies. They’ll also cover diagnostic algorithms, utility of serological testing to aid in diagnosis of infection, contact tracing and epidemiological studies, the utility of antigen tests and key concepts related to sensitivity of viral nucleic acid detection, infectiousness, and diagnostics efficacy.

Speakers: Giuseppe Lippi, MD, professor of clinical biochemistry, University of Verona, and John Hackett, Jr., PhD, divisional vice president of Applied Research and Technology, Abbott Laboratories

SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Basics—Current State of Affairs (33114)

Tuesday, December 15, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Presenters will discuss leading SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in development, offering specifics on the virus’s epidemiology and biology, the stages and safety oversight of vaccine development, and Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. effort to develop and disseminate vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

Speaker: Sharon Frey, MD, clinical director, Saint Louis University School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development

Therapeutic Strategies for COVID-19 (34234)

Wednesday, December 16, 2–4:30 p.m.

Session presenters will cover successes and failures of therapeutic treatments of novel and repurposed drugs such as the antimalarials chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, and remdesivir and convalescent plasma therapy. They’ll also highlight the utility of respiratory therapy strategies including intubation, mechanical ventilation, high-flow nasal cannula, and helmet noninvasive ventilation.

Speakers: Kathleen Mullane, DO, Pharm D, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago; Jill Adamski, MD, PhD, a pathologist at Mayo Clinic; and Allison Dalton, MD, assistant professor of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago

Clinical Laboratory Direction in the Apocalypse: Responding to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the first hot spot in the U.S. (35113)

Thursday, December 17, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

The University of Washington’s (UW) clinical lab developed its own testing and informatics response to address the first SARS-CoV-2 hot spot in the United States: Seattle. Participants will hear from two pathologists from the front lines of this outbreak. 


Patrick Mathias, MD, PhD, board-certified clinical pathologist and associate director of informatics for UW Medicine, and

Geoffrey Baird, MD, PhD, board-certified pathologist at UW Medicine

Antibody and Antigen Testing for SARS-CoV-2: Where Are We Now? (32454)

Thursday, December 17, 2–3:30 p.m.

Participants will learn the latest about the role of antibody testing and the performance characteristics of select assays. Speakers will also review appropriate result interpretation, the clinical significance of reported results, and the utility and performance characteristics of antigen detection assays for SARS-CoV-2.

Speakers: Patricia Slev, PhD, DABCC, section chief, immunology at ARUP Laboratories, and Elitza Theel, PhD, D(ABMM), director of the Mayo Clinic’s Infectious Diseases Serology laboratory

Jannetto expects to further his understanding of the virus from these sessions. “Microbiology is not my primary area of expertise,” he noted. “It will be refreshing to learn about each of these important topics directly from the scientific/medical experts in each of these areas.”

Learning about the latest advances on the vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 will be a big draw at this conference, he continued.

Stay up to date on SARS-CoV-2 testing, vaccine, and virology news by attending these timely sessions at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo.