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SGA President Hosts Q and A About COVID and Vaccine

SGA Interview | Photo by Roxanne Roessner | The Wright State Guardian

The Student Government Association (SGA) hosted an interview with Gary LeRoy M.D., associate dean for student affairs and admissions at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, and discussed how to best stop the spread of the coronavirus.  

SGA President Adrian Williams and SGA Director of Accessibility, Health, and Safety Chiemeka Okafor lead the interview with Dr. LeRoy.  

“The reason I wanted to do this was to inform the campus about what’s going on and answer questions surrounding the vaccine,” said Willaims. 

The history of the coronavirus 

Dr. LeRoy began by breaking down the coronavirus and comparing it to other illnesses in the past. The coronavirus is more commonly found in animals and human immune systems have never dealt with this virus. 

According to Dr. LeRoy, the coronavirus is termed COVID-19 because it is short for the coronavirus and began in 2019. The coronavirus is a type of Severe Adult Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) however, it does not only affect adults. Children and young people may feel ill for a short time or have severe issues; however, they are more likely to transfer the virus as a sort of Trojan Horse.  

Dr. LeRoy referenced “The Great Influenza” by John Barry. This novel explained the 1918 Spanish flu and its impact on the world. 102 years have passed since the last world-wide pandemic, and yet we as people have made the same mistakes. 

The Spanish flu killed 675,000 Americans while the coronavirus has killed 300,000.  

“Now, 102 years ago, they did not have a Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they did not have a World Health Organization, they did not know what a virus was, they did not have our fancy antibiotics and antiviral medications. But ironically enough, we are making the same mistakes they made 102 years ago,” said LeRoy. 

According to Dr. LeRoy, the misinformation is present in both Spanish flu and the coronavirus. People would sell quick fixes to make the illness disappear, but nothing worked.  

The Surgeon General finally made three rules for the United States to follow. Wash your hands. Stay six feet away. Wear a mask.  

“They (1918) sheltered in place for two months until finally, because of how it was affecting the economy and the will to shelter and place, people came out for the holidays. That’s when people really started dying and that’s what Anthony Fauci was warning us about, and guess what, we ended up doing the exact same thing,” said Dr. LeRoy. 

Spreading the coronavirus 

The coronavirus is a respiratory virus and can be spread through coughing or breathing in the general vicinity of someone who is infected. Once the virus is exhaled, the microscopic droplets hang suspended in the air. The virus travels into the lungs, injects its genetic particles into cells and multiplies rapidly. 

According to Dr. LeRoy, this is why some people suddenly struggle to breathe. If individuals get viral pneumonia or SARS, that is when they are placed on a ventilator to help them breathe.  

The vaccine 

Dr. LeRoy broke down how the coronavirus infects humans and what the vaccine does to stop it. 

“The vaccine that you’re hearing about right now is basically a messenger RNA. For those of you that have taken biochemistry and such, a messenger RNA introduces the elements and the proteins of this virus to your immune system and the RNA replicates it so that as soon as it comes in contact with it [the virus], you already have that antibody,” said Dr. LeRoy.  

According to Dr. LeRoy, the creation of the vaccine is because they have cracked the DNA code. Scientists can replicate the virus and create cures by reading DNA and what will respond best.  

“The ones you’re hearing about right now from Pfizer is two shots and the next one that is coming is two shots. The first one would probably get you around 60-70% immune to it, but you need the second one that gets you up to 94-95%,” said Dr. LeRoy. 

What to remember 

Many small businesses have worried about shutting down during the pandemic because it is their livelihood. Dr. LeRoy agrees and believes that the balance stuck between businesses and staying healthy is working out. However, hand sanitizer and spaced-out tables in a restaurant may not protect everyone.  

“The bottom line is that if everybody dies, there’s no economy to come back to. The awful lesson that we learned is that if people who exist in the margins of society, especially people of color, that work in the service industry die, their services die with them,” said Dr. LeRoy.  

Dr. LeRoy reminds students to stay safe over the holiday break and to remember to wash their hands, keep their distance and wear a mask.

Roxanne Roessner

Wright Life and Laker Life Editor

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