COVID-19 Immunization | Illustration by Kayli Thompson | The Wright State Guardian
A return to normalcy may be on the horizon, with Operation Warp Speed and the CDC hoping to release a Coronavirus vaccine in November or December to those who need it most.
The CDC’s senate testimony
Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the CDC, told a Senate panel that “there will most likely be a vaccine available sometime between November or December, but it will have to be prioritized.”
Dr. Redfield also commented that it would not just be patients receiving the first doses of the vaccine.
“First responders and those at greatest risk… as well as those with significant comorbidities that put themselves at risk, they have to get vaccinated.”
While there are no approved vaccines for the Coronavirus currently, Operation Warp Speed, a public-private global partnership led by the United States, has helped push the production and distribution of a vaccine to the American public.
“It’s unprecedented,” Redfield commented. “The fastest prior [vaccine] took 2 years, and usually 4 to 6 years.”
Since the outbreak began, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued grants totaling almost 1 billion dollars to Johnson & Johnson and Moderna to speed up the clinical trials of their respective vaccine candidates.
With the efficiency of Operation Warp Speed, and many vaccines in phase 3 of clinical trials, some experts have safety concerns.
“Vaccines normally go through a very rigorous safety check all along the 3 stages of development,” Jerome Kim, Director-General of the International Vaccine Institute, said.
“We don’t know that a vaccine that’s developed in 12 to 18 months is really safe… It’s one thing to work, but the vaccines have to be safe.”
Seth Bauguess, the Director of Communications at Wright State University (WSU), is optimistic about the safety of the vaccines.
“Never before has such a large amount of time and resources been devoted to a single vaccine effort,” Bauguess said. “Companies used vaccine platforms that were already under development for other purposes. Because of this, time was saved in development and clinical trials could begin more rapidly.”
The Impact of an available vaccine on WSU
Students and Staff hoping for a return to fully in-person classes will still likely be waiting for a while, since public access to the vaccine will not be available until mid-2021.
“I think we’re probably looking at late second quarter, early third quarter of 2021,” Redfield said. “We’ll start with first responders and those at greatest risk, then it will expand.”
Bauguess stresses that while a vaccine is the main thing to think about when talking about reopening, it is not the only factor that will decide when WSU fully reopens.
“Widespread immunity is critical to resuming life and operations,” Bauguess said. “I view [a vaccine] as the lynchpin to Wright State returning to normal operations. Built into that reality would be, of course, that we’d need to meet the approval of local health authorities too. Simply put, the state of Ohio would have to agree with the decision.”
But, for the spring semester, it looks like classes will be similar to what they are like for this semester.
“There’s nothing firm to announce at this time about operations for spring semester,” Bauguess explained. “But I would be surprised if university operations were anything drastically different than where they are now.
Bauguess also stresses to use your resources for up-to-date information, and to look after each other through this changing time.
“The university’s coronavirus webpage and coronavirus dashboard are critical public information resources for campus populations to stay informed,” Bauguess said. “Students should also consider their professors as important sources of information as they should be contacted whenever there is any kind of question in the student’s mind.”
“I am so appreciative of everyone who worked so tirelessly over the summer to prepare for Fall Semester. I am also so grateful that our students, faculty, and staff have been so willing to comply with our campus safety measures,” Bauguess said. “This is a time where self-care and care for others is critical. This is an evolving situation, where we all need to be patient, flexible, tolerant, and most importantly, kind to one another.
Wright State’s coronavirus webpage: https://www.wright.edu/coronavirus
Wright State’s coronavirus dashboard: https://www.wright.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-dashboard