Is It Possible To Have A Vaccine In Such A Short Period Of Time?

Jordan Coll// Asst. News Director

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health have already begun clinical trials to determine if their vaccines are effective against COVID-19.

It seems the phrase “all hands on deck” has become more than evident as researchers around the globe are working together to find a cure against the Coronavirus.

As the number of cases, and deaths, continue to rise worldwide, a vaccine doesn’t seem to be available fast enough. A majority of people who catch COVID-19 do not display physical symptoms.

“The majority of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, this is why I believe so many people have been infected,” said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka an FIU professor of Epidemiology. 

Vaccines are a solution to a long term issue such as COVID-19, but entering phase III does not guarantee a cure.

“We have had diseases such as HIV enter phase III trials,” said Trepka.  “But we still do not have a cure until this day.”

As a professor who specializes in diseases, such as AIDS and STDS, Trepka believes a careful assessment of potential vaccines should be made to ensure their effectiveness.

Worldwide, 165 vaccines have been fabricated to cure COVID-19 but only 27 have entered clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization.

In the country, one COVID-19 vaccine entered phase III developed by a pharmaceutical company called Moderna made in collaboration with several national health departments. 

Over 30,000 people will participate in the experimental trial, half receiving the shot and the other receiving a placebo. 

Trepka assures practicing the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help students protect their health from the virus.

“The most important thing during this time is that everyone wears a mask and practices social distancing measures coming back to campus,” said Trepka. 

Operation Warp Speed, initiated by the Trump Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, has developed these vaccines at an unprecedented rate. Under the program, the U.S. government expects to identify five or more possible vaccines that will be funded to determine efficacy.

Trepka said students who have been infected by the virus should consider donating plasma. 

“Yes, a vaccine would be ideal given the current situation, said Trepka. “But what people should highly consider are the ones who already have been infected and have developed an immunity…donating plasma would also help.”

People who contracted the virus and recovered develop natural defenses in their blood known as antibodies, found in plasma. Antibody therapy has shown to improve the recovery rate of a patient who is infected, according to the American Society of Hematology.

These antibodies are used as a biological defense against the spread of the virus allowing patients to recover quicker.

“There are many promising results that have come from plasma therapy,” said Trepka. 

For students who wish to donate plasma, they can visit the oneblood site. 

FIU partnered with Baptist Health Hospital to inform researchers, scientists, policymakers, and the general public on how the virus impacts Miami-Dade County. 

Data showing positive COVID-19 Cases

Known as the Miami-Dade COVID-19 Project, the site provides projection models and daily information on positive COVID-19 cases and the death rate. The data indicates a resurgence in cases after the state reopened.

The percentage of positive test results obtained exceeds the 5% threshold recommended by the WHO for reopening. 

The studies also indicate the number of positive COVID-19 tests has increased by an average of 34 cases each day, in a two week period.

“We should also consider that an average of 4% of the population of Miami-Dade County is positive for COVID-19,” Trepka said.

“The data is now showing the numbers of positive cases are plateauing but if we let our guard down we could see a resurfacing of the virus, one that we may not be able to recover so easily.” 

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