November 10, 2021

Preventing a “Twindemic” Through Immunization


When: November 25, 2021 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Where: Zoom

Contact: Event Website

The Lung Health Foundation and Canada’s Global Nexus for Pandemics and Biological Threats have partnered to develop relevant solutions to prevent, prepare for and protect against the next pandemic and advance these solutions to decision-makers.

With the lifting of public health restrictions across Canada, a surge in influenza infections could overlap with an outbreak of COVID-19, overwhelming hospitals and disproportionately affecting marginalized groups. At the same time, lower-than-average flu cases due to COVID-19 safety measures make it harder to predict this winter’s flu strains and develop efficacious vaccines.

In this policy forum, panelists will investigate what governments and public health can do to mitigate the potential effects of a ‘twindemic’.

Meet the Moderator

Dr. Dawn Bowdish
Dawn Bowdish is a Professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University and the Executive Director of the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

Dr. Bowdish is a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Aging & Immunity. Her work focuses on the cells of the innate immune response such as monocytes and macrophages. She is known for several discoveries including the immunomodulatory properties of the antimicrobial peptide LL-37, how MARCO signalling complex recognizes Mycobacterium tuberculosis, age-associated inflammation and its effects on clearing pneumococcal pneumonia and how the ageing gut microbiome drives age-associated inflammation.

Meet the Panel

Dr. Jennie Johnstone
Jennie Johnstone is an Infectious Diseases Physician at UHN/Sinai Health and is the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) at Sinai Health.

Dr. Johnstone is an Associate Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. Her research interests focus on prevention of healthcare-associated infections and she has published more than 100 peer-reviewed research articles in the field.

She has been involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response locally as Medical Director at Sinai Health and as an IPAC Hub providing support to Congregate Care settings and as the Vice-Chair of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Advisory of IPAC, Chair of the Ontario’s Provincial Expert Testing Strategy Panel, Chair of the Toronto Region IPAC Hub Coordination Table and is a member of PIDAC (Ontario’s Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee on IPAC) and the Ontario Science Advisory Table’s Congregate Care Setting Working Group.

Dr. Marek Smieja
Marek Smieja is a Professor of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University and the Medical Co-director of Infection Prevention and Control at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

Dr. Smieja’s clinical focus encompasses infectious diseases, complicated Clostridiodes (Clostridium) difficile infection and HIV care. His primary research interests are in the diagnosis of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, and in the role of chronic infections in respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Smieja is also involved in the development evaluation of respiratory diagnostic tests for COVID-19, influenza, and rhinovirus.

Dr. Mark Loeb
Mark Loeb is a Professor of Pathology and Molecular medicine and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University and the Infectious Disease Head of service for Hamilton Health Sciences.

Dr. Loeb holds the Michael G DeGroote Chair in Infectious Diseases. His research interests include epidemiologic and genomic population-based studies on viral infections including influenza, West Nile, and dengue. Current projects include an NIH population genetics research program, a CIHR funded cluster randomized controlled trial to reduce the spread of influenza by immunizing children in Hutterite colonies, and a CIHR funded influenza pandemic team grant to establish natural history as well as immunologic and genetic determinants of influenza infection.