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Updates From Wuhan

Zhiyong Peng is feeling better nowadays about fighting COVID-19. When Pittwire spoke with Peng last year, he said he spent “almost all” of his time at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China.

“In the first three months, our team worked tirelessly,” said Peng, who heads the hospital’s department of critical care medicine and is a former fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. “But since early April, we haven’t seen nearly as many COVID cases. Our country has stepped up policies in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Our patients are always tested for COVID-19 before they enter our hospitals.”

Zhiyong Peng in a white coat and a light blue shirt with a tie
His optimism can be seen in the streets of Wuhan as well. What was once a city of panic in total lockdown as the source of the COVID-19 outbreak, it has since returned to near normalcy. Social distancing guidelines are still in place, but citizens of Wuhan are now shopping in markets and eating in restaurants.

While Peng is seasoned in critical care medicine, part of his current management of this crisis can in part be attributed to his time at Pitt. He spent about nine years in the Department of Critical Care Medicine researching complications from acute kidney injury and severe infections such as sepsis.

“I think my time in Pittsburgh, the leadership training I received, made me a better manager throughout this crisis,” he said. “I appreciated my time there.”

While Peng’s early prediction of sorting out the pandemic in one month didn’t come to fruition, he said he is optimistic about the rapid development of multiple vaccine candidates.

“With the vaccines, I believe spring will come. We also better understand how this virus spreads from person to person,” he said. “We can take better care of patients now than we could a year ago. Most of our patients have survived. We also have more confidence now.”

Despite the optimism, Peng says people should still be mindful of distancing guidelines, washing hands every day and wearing masks while in public.

“Prevention is important,” he said. “People should get their vaccinations as well. Through these, we can steadily move back to a normal life.”