Dr. Francis Collins holds a unique position on the front lines of America's fight against COVID-19. He is the Director of the National Institutes of Health, a medical doctor and an outspoken Christian.
"This is a diabolical virus to try to deal with," he told CBN News, "What concerns me most is we're still in the middle of it."
Dr. Collins helps lead America's response to the coronavirus pandemic, offering his advice to President Trump, Congress, and the Coronavirus Taskforce.
"Well, I'm a physician. I'm also a follower of Jesus and I think we're called upon to look at what are the facts of the matter and then look with compassion to see what we can do to help," he said.
Faith and Science
In 2003, Collins made headlines in leading the Human Genome Project which mapped and sequenced DNA.
His bestselling book, The Language of God, described his conversion to Christianity from atheism as a young doctor.
Later he started the Biologos Foundation which leads discussions on the relationship between faith and science.
Last year he won the prestigious Templeton Prize for outstanding achievement in both science and faith. Other recipients include Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and Bishop Desmond Tutu.
"Surveys would say 40-percent of working scientists believe in God," he explained, "And not just a vague idea of God, but a God who actually answers prayers."
On the Coronavirus front, Collins predicts a vaccine will be available by December. It would go first to those at high risk, such as people living and working in nursing homes as well as certain hospital workers.
Collins expects there do be enough of the vaccine for the entire country to be vaccinated by spring.
However, surveys indicate an estimated one in five Americans plans to refuse it. Collins hopes they will reconsider.
"Well, I hope they would step back from what's going on as far as a lot of conspiracy theories and social media things that are going on and say, 'Ok let's look at the facts here.
God gave us a brain to think about these things and sort through what the evidence is," he said. "When the vaccines get tested we will be very transparent about what we learned about their safety and their efficacy, that is their ability to prevent disease."
The truth is important to Collins. He and his associates are currently reviewing a jaw-dropping 400 unproven theories for treatments or cures submitted by doctors and scientists.
"One of my big goals over the last three months has been to try to prioritize with help from all the smart minds in both industry and academia and government, of those 400, which most need a rigorous test so we'll find out if they work or not," he said. "A lot of those clinical trials are now getting underway. We will know a lot more about this in the next couple of months."
While reviewing the astounding number of unproven treatments, Collins highlights only three which have successfully endured the most rigorous testing: the antiviral Remdesivir, the common steroid Dexamethasone, and blood from survivors, known as convalescent plasma. That blood contains antibodies that defend against COVID-19 when a person is exposed to the virus.
"And we can go even further than that and purify the antibodies from people who have survived so-called monoclonal antibodies," he explained, "And those are about to get tested in just the next few weeks to see whether they also provide life-saving benefits."
In the meantime, Collins advises everyone, even those who seem healthy, to practice social distancing, avoid indoor crowds, wash hands frequently, and wear a mask.
"And certainly, most of you who are listening are Christians," he said in the television interview with CBN News, "This is what we're called to do...to do what we can to help those who are most vulnerable."
Collins advises against minimizing the danger posed by the virus.
"Yes, many people do manage to get this disease and do pretty well. Some don't even know they have it," he said, "But for those who get severe illness, end up in the hospital, end up on ventilators, end up dying, this is a very serious plague."
He continued, "And for anybody to try to downgrade that, who hasn't actually walked the halls of a hospital and seen what this is doing, then really do step back from any kind of political persuasions. Politics and medicine really don't mix very well."
Collins remains hopeful and says God is working in this pandemic, not just in the laboratory, but also in the hearts of people who, for the first time, are searching for the meaning of life.