A Collaborative Effort to Overcome the Pandemic
The year 2020 was like no other in any of our memories. As 2020 started we heard about a respiratory virus that was highly contagious, progressed in some to a very aggressive respiratory disease, and was taking the lives of many despite the best in medical care. By February, it was recognized that the world was facing a respiratory virus of significant potency and lethality. It was named severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), but unlike the 2003 version of SARS or the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2012 this was going to have a severe global impact. In March 2020, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization and as of this writing has killed over 3 million people, infected more than 153 million of all ages, and ravaged the global healthcare system and economy. It has left millions who have recovered with "long-haul" side effects. The bright side is that global mobilization has resulted in vaccines that appear to be significantly effective.
With the SARS-CoV-2 virus primarily spreading via respiratory droplets or particles, such as those in aerosols, and found in significant quantities in saliva, COVID-19 has had profound effects on the practice of dentistry. The dental profession was confronted with issues of deciding the best methods of managing transmission, aerosol management, disinfection protocols, screening, and point-of-care testing protocols to determine the viral status of patients, clinicians, and staff members and obtaining proper personal protective equipment supplies.
In April 2020, a group of dental educators, operating under the name Testing for Tomorrow (T4T) Collaborative, joined forces to generate ideas for helping dentistry reopen safely. The collaboration included representatives from the University of California at San Francisco, University of Michigan, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and New York University, as well as the respected healthcare company, Henry Schein, Inc., which provided market insights and a gateway to the many manufacturers developing tests, and the Santa Fe Group, which helped coordinate the efforts of the Collaborative and promulgate the findings.
As guest editor of this special COVID-19 thematic issue of Compendium, I have the honor of presenting some of the most current dental-related information on SARS-CoV-2 virus, the disease, its prevention, and dental practice management. The articles in this issue have been written by some of the nation's leading dental authorities as a by-product of the work of the T4T Collaborative. Please enjoy the contents.
Mark S. Wolff, DDS, PhD
Morton Amsterdam Dean, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine