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The First Global Hellenic Medical Teleconference on COVID-19

Αssociated Press

FILE- A member of medical personnel shows collected blood samples from COVID-19 tests at the MontLegia CHC hospital in Liege, Belgium, Friday, June 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

NEW YORK – The First Global Hellenic Medical Teleconference on COVID-19, held on June 20, organized by the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America in collaboration with the General Secretariat of Greeks Abroad, and the Hellenic Medical Society of New York (HMSNY) was a great success.

Dr. Spyros Mezitis, MD, PhD, President of the Federation and endocrinologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City moderated the meeting. Professor Emeritus John Chrysoulakis, General Secretary of Greeks Abroad of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was instrumental in putting the teleconference together.

One hundred physicians from 25 countries, including many University Professors and physicians from several hospitals and 10 Presidents of Hellenic medical societies from around the world, participated.

The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis prefaced the teleconference with the good news of Greece controlling the pandemic and opening to tourism. He invited all doctors and bioscientists of Hellenic descent to Athens, Greece next summer for a Global Hellenic Medical Conference.

The Deputy Minister of Greeks Abroad Kostas Vlasis, University Professor and orthopedist and member of the Greek Parliament, congratulated the Hellenic doctors for being at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 and for their support for Greek issues.

The Governor of Attica and President of the Medical Society of Athens Dr. George Patoulis spoke on the importance of the global networking of physicians of Hellenic descent.

The speakers and the discussants of international acclaim were exceptional and showcased the power of Hellenic physicians on the world stage.

Greek-American Dr. George Yancopoulos, co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of the pharmaceutical company Regeneron, presented the novel genetic method of developing humanized antiviral antibodies in mice that are being used in experimental studies to block COVID-19 action on human lung cells.

Dr. Stefanos Kales, Professor of Occupational Health at Harvard Medical School, reviewed the spread of COVID-19 in the United States and its deadly impact on nursing home residents. He analyzed the effect of several factors including climate/temperature, population density and timely protective measures in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. He appeared optimistic about the gradual decline of the pandemic and the reduction of COVID-19 mortality.

Dr. Manolis Kogevinas, President of the Barcelona Institute of Global Health, presented data on the initial failure of controlling the pandemic in Spain and the subsequent control measures. He noted that the pandemic has moved to countries/continents of weak health systems and problematic hygienic conditions such as South America and Africa. He concluded that the protection of biodiversity will prove a critical factor in future pandemic prevention.

Dr. Sotirios Tsiodras, Harvard-trained Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Athens, Greece, and Chief of the Hellenic Center for Disease Control, spoke on the successful control of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece through early lockdown, strict adherence to protective measures, increase in hospital ICU beds and population discipline. He questioned the effectiveness of the vaccines under development and how acceptable they will be by the general population. Dr. Tsiodras believes that tourism with testing and social tracing will be successful.

Dr. Spyros Zakynthinos, Professor of Pulmonology and Intensive Care Medicine at the University of Athens and Chief of the ICU at Evangelismos Hospital in Athens, presented slides showing lower 39% mortality compared to other hospital ICUs globally that he believes is due to Greece's early lockdown.

Dr. Theoharis Theoharides, Professor of Pharmacology/Immunology at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, commented on his work in controlling the COVID-19 cytotoxic storm.

Dr. George Dangas, Professor of Cardiology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Past-President of the HMSNY commented on recent studies associating COVID-19 infection with heart disease.

The neurosurgeon Dr. Demetris Sigounas, Professor at George Washington University, noted that we will be seeing more cerebrovascular events in patients who have suffered from COVID-19 infection.

The interventional cardiologist Dr. Elias Iliadis, President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of New Jersey spoke on the networking of Hellenic physicians worldwide and the successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece.

The surgeon Dr. Panagiotis Manolas, HMSNY President spoke about the contributions of the HMSNY physicians in informing and helping the Greek-American community to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and in establishing an e-platform for Hellenic professional organizations to communicate and collaborate globally.

The gynecologist Dr. Lorraine Chrysomallis, HMSNY Vice President announced the continuing medical education program with COVID-19 tele-lectures featuring Dr. Coritsides and Dr. Tassiopoulos on Friday, July 3, 8:30 AM New York time. Other HMSNY doctors who have presented in the media include Dr. Ann Kolokathis, Dr. Andrew Glyptis, Dr. George Syros, Dr. Elias Iliadis, Dr. George Dangas, Dr. George Tsioulias, Dr. Helen Gouzoulis, Dr. George Liakeas, Dr. John Stathopoulos, Dr. Vasilis Latoussakis, Dr. Nicholas Mezitis, and Dr. Spyros Mezitis.

Dr. Kyriaki Sonidou, President of the Hellenic Medical Society of the United Kingdom, greeted all teleconference participants and commented on Greek physicians on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic in Great Britain.

Dr. Marinos Pirpiris, President of the Hellenic Medical Society of Australia, thanked the teleconference organizers and presented the COVID-19 situation in Australia.

Dr. Alexis Theodorou, President of the Hellenic Medical Society of Rheinland/Westphalen in Germany, commented on the COVID-19 situation in Germany and plans to visit Greece in the summer.

Dr. Olga Sarantopoulou, President of the Austrian Society of Hellenic Professionals and Entrepreneurs and Vice President of the Hellenic Medical Society of Austria, congratulated Professor Emeritus John Chrysoulakis, Secretary General for Greeks Abroad of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Dr. Spyros Mezitis, President of the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America for this seminal initiative in bringing the Hellenic physicians together worldwide to network and collaborate, and exchange views in order to help Greece. She noted that this undertaking should continue on a global basis and that Hellenic scientists must participate in the future policy planning for Greece.

Conclusions of the First Global Hellenic Medical Teleconference on COVID-19 include:

1. The Hellenic physicians and bioscientists are at the forefront of research and management of COVID-19.

2. The Hellenic physicians and bioscientists globally are a great asset for supporting Greece.

3. All speakers agreed that the protective measures including strict hygiene, social distancing, and wearing masks when in proximity in closed spaces are imperative in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

4. The Hellenic medical organizations were successful in communicating globally in order to collaborate in saving human lives.

5. Greece is working hard to provide a safe environment for Greeks from Abroad and tourists visiting the country.

The Organizing Committee for the First Global Hellenic Teleconfererce greatly appreciates the exemplary technical support of Dr. Elias Iliadis of the Federation of Hellenic Medical Societies of North America and Ms. Alexandra Demetriou, MS Microbiology, Boston, who assisted from the United States.