Epidemiologist Arnold Monto to lead COVID-19 vaccine hearings


Arnold Monto, a leading epidemiologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, will serve as acting chair of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting.

Arnold Monto

The committee, which provides advice to the Food and Drug Administration, will discuss the development, authorization and licensure of vaccines to prevent COVID-19.

During the Oct. 22 public meeting, the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will also have a public comment section. No specific vaccine will be discussed at the meeting.

Before being selected as chair for this meeting, Monto served four years as a member of the committee, through January 2020.

“Dr. Monto is an internationally renowned expert in infectious disease prevention and vaccine effectiveness with decades of experience with pandemic planning and response,” said F. DuBois Bowman, dean of the School of Public Health. “He has made countless contributions to the field of epidemiology, and I am grateful for his ongoing leadership and expertise in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

During the meeting, U-M epidemiologist Emily Toth Martin is expected to present on behalf of the Infectious Disease Society of America, a medical association representing physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who specialize in infectious diseases.

Monto, the Thomas Francis Collegiate Professor of Public Health and a professor of epidemiology and of global public health, is an internationally known expert on the transmission, prevention, mitigation and social response to outbreaks and pandemic planning including transmission modes.

He has been involved in pandemic planning and emergency response to influenza and other respiratory virus outbreaks, including the 1968 Hong Kong influenza pandemic, avian influenza, SARS, MERS and the COVID-19 pandemic. He is the author of more than 350 research papers focusing on the epidemiology and implications of respiratory infections.

During the 1968 influenza pandemic, Monto found that vaccinating school-age children reduced infection in the entire community, an early demonstration of herd immunity.

He has been involved in evaluating a variety of strategies to control influenza including vaccines, antivirals and nonpharmaceutical interventions such as antiseptic tissues and face masks. He also designed and carried out critical studies evaluating the value of the neuraminidase inhibitors now in use for influenza.

At U-M, Monto founded the Michigan Influenza Center, which he now co-directs with Martin, associate professor of epidemiology. The lab is one of five centers across the country that collects data for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monto also established the 2010 Household Influenza Vaccine Evaluation Study, designed to allow the study of many aspects of infection occurrence and prevention over time, which Martin also co-leads. The study resulted in several notable findings related to natural infection with different viruses and the immune correlates of protection from different influenza vaccines. It was the first to demonstrate the potential problems with the serial use of such vaccines.

He was awarded the Alexander Fleming Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2009.


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