By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Researchers at Penn are working hand in hand with Delaware Valley officials on the response to the coronavirus.

“Younger people do have to take this as seriously as older people because youth is not protection against severe disease,” said Dr. Ron Collman, with the Perelman School of Medicine.

It’s a stern warning from top coronavirus researchers.

On Friday, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania held a worldwide virtual symposium on the coronavirus.

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Last month, the school established the Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens. They say the reason why COVID-19 is so deadly and contagious is that, unlike the seasonal flu, humans have zero immunity.

“Each time a new influenza strain comes along, we may not have complete immunity but we’re not completely naked against it. SARS-CoV-2, we’ve never seen before,” Collman said.

The center is taking the lead on research and will be the place for centralized information.

“As all of you know, we’re in the middle of a crisis and crisis require leaders and action,” Larry Jameson said.

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And they say this research isn’t just being done to figure out what’s going on with coronavirus, but also to prevent the next worldwide pandemic.

“Who knows when it will be, who knows where it will be, but we need to be ready for the next one to emerge,” Collman said.

Also at Penn, construction is on overdrive to finish the new Pavilion Hospital. When it is completed, the 120 beds inside the facility will serve as an overflow hospital for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, HUP will serve the more critical COVID-19 patients.

Despite it still being a construction site, Penn plans on having these beds open by mid-April.