Got a Question about COVID-19? UC Davis-Based Webinar Set April 23

Got a Question about COVID-19? UC Davis-Based Webinar Set April 23

Can infected mosquitoes transmit COVID-19?

That's one of the questions slated to be asked at the UC Davis-based COVID webinar, set from 1:30 to 4 p.m., Thursday, April 23,  via Zoom and YouTube.

Folks are submitting their questions now, and you can, too.

The virtual seminar, featuring physicians and scientists, is expected to provide a wealth of information, says organizer-moderator Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences, and former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Leal, an eminent scientist known for his research, teaching and public service, is a chemical ecologist whose expertise includes mosquito-borne viruses. He coordinated a Zika-virus public awareness seminar on the UC Davis campus in May 2016.

So, can infected mosquitoes transmit COVID-19?

"There is no evidence that mosquitoes transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease named COVID-19," said Leal. "If the virus can be transmitted so effectively from human to human, why would they need an intermediate host? That way, the virus would have to replicate in the mosquito body to be transmitted a few days later. The virus evolution led to a 'faster track.' It is conceivable that when it gets warm, and mosquitoes bite COVID-19 patients, the virus could be found in the mosquito body, but this is not to say that mosquitoes are vectors. They are not."

The public is invited to submit advance questions at this site, where they can also register to attend via Zoom. Registrants will be provided a link to the free symposium and a reminder. The COVID-19 project also will be live-streamed free on Leal's Biochemistry Channel on YouTube at

“It is heartbreaking to hear the number of people dying every day,” Leal said. “We have well-qualified people to address questions from the populace, so I thought I would put my organizing skills and experience with modern teaching technologies at the service of the public.” (His peers recently honored him with the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America, and the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching, from the UC Davis Academic Senate.)

Chancellor Gary May will deliver the welcoming address. Main speakers are UC Davis physician-scientists Emanuel Maverakis, Stuart Cohen and Nathan Kuppermann; UC Davis veterinarian-scientist Nicole Baumgarth; physician Ron Chapman, Yolo County Health Officer; and pediatrician State Sen. Richard Pan, District 6 chair, Senate Committee on Health.

  • Dr. Emanuel Maverakis is a professor in the Departments of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, and Dermatology, UC Davis School of Medicine. A fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, he is known for its work in the field of predictive modeling, as well as for the development of novel analysis tools for immunogenetics. He received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's New Innovator Award, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Barack Obama.

  • Dr. Stuart Cohen is professor and chief of Division of Infectious Diseases and director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, UC Davis School of Medicine. He specializes in clinical infectious diseases and infection control in the hospital environment.

  • Dr. Ron Chapman, the Yolo County Health Officer, is also a health strategist consultant focused on helping health departments build quality improvement and performance management systems. He earlier served as director and State Health Officer, California Department of Public Health.

  • Dr. Nathan Kupppermann, an emergency physician for UC Davis Health, is professor and chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine.  The recipient of the Academic Senate's 2020 Faculty Research Award, Kuppermann is member of the National Academy of Medicine and principal investigator of the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network.

  • Dr. Nicole Baumgarth is a professor in the Center for Comparative Medicine, and the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The Baumgarth laboratory investigates the basic immunological mechanisms that regulate and control immunity to pathogens.

  • Dr. Richard Pan, a State Senator who represents the Sacramento region and chairs the Senate Health Committee, is in close contact with the California Department of Public Health and with monitoring the response to the coronavirus outbreak. "Public health is about keeping our neighborhoods safe and healthy," he said in a press release on his website. "The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of the cost of not having a robust public health system in place. Our leaders need to be listening to public health experts and sharing accurate health information to save lives. Everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life in a safe environment."

In addition to the main speakers, presenters will provide information on such topics as face masks and modeling systems. You-Lo Hsieh, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and an expert on textiles and clothing, will explain the differences between regular masks, surgical masks, and N95 masks, plus what the public can do when masks are unavailable. She researches polymer chemistry, fiber engineering and bio-based materials.

James R. Carey, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and an authority on population biology and modeling, will share his expertise on modeling systems. He served as the principal investigator of a 10-year, $10 million federal grant on “Aging in the Wild,” encompassing 14 scientists at 11 universities. Carey co-authored, with Deborah Roach of the University of Virginia, the newly published book, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods (Princeton University Press), described as “an authoritative overview of the concepts and applications of biological demography.”  (See news story.)

Got a question? Register here and ask here: