COVID on campus

Viable vaccine sparks controversy in the United States

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The news column “COVID on campus” posts relevant COVID-19 news every week for UWEC students.

Earlier today, citizens of the United Kingdom officially started to receive the first viable vaccine against COVID-19 among western countries.

The first person to receive a dose of the vaccine was Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old woman, at 6:31 a.m. local time, according to CNN.

The vaccine was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. According to CNN Health, it is more than 90% effective against the COVID-19 virus. 

The vaccine works due to a new type of medical technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA. Moderna, another biotechnology company developing a vaccine, is utilizing the same technology. It is administered in two doses.

The vaccine tricks cells into producing parts of proteins that appear like parts of the virus. Then, the immune system can learn to recognize and attack the virus before an infection truly occurs.

The United Kingdom was not the first country to start distributing vaccines to its citizens. According to AP News, Russia began distributing the Sputnik V vaccine on Saturday, Dec. 5 and China has been giving domestically-made injections already.

The difference is that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the first vaccine to have finished late-stage trials that ensure the effectiveness and safety of potential vaccines.

In July, the Trump administration locked down a promise of 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine for whenever it was deemed viable. According to CBS News, the New York Times wrote the government had a chance to purchase more doses.

This claim has gained pushback from the Trump administration. In the NY Times article, the Trump Administration is said to have plans to sign an executive order which would keep other nations from the United States’ supplies of vaccines. 

According to ABC News, Mocef Slaoui, chief science advisor to the Trump administration’s COVID-19 vaccine program, said he knew nothing about the executive order President Trump talked about signing today.

As of 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 7, there is one new positive case of COVID-19 among on-campus students at UW-Eau Claire out of the 336 tests given, resulting in a positivity rate of 0.3%.

According to the UW-Eau Claire COVID-19 dashboard, the cumulative total of positive tests among students tested at the university now rests at 627 cases out of 26,589 tests given.

This is an increase of 40 cases since the last issue of COVID on campus. 

Additionally, the surge testing dashboard reported no new cases among off-campus students or faculty and staff tested on Dec. 7 out of the 96 tests and 152 tests given, respectively.

The Barron County dashboard, as of 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, reported 18 self-reported positive cases of COVID-19 among students and one from a staff member. 

As of 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 7, the information from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department said there were 27 new student-connected cases of COVID-19 and no new staff cases.

This brings the cumulative total of student-connected positive cases of COVID-19 to 900, which is an increase of 52 cases since the last issue of COVID on campus.

In Eau Claire County, there have been 8,178 total positive cases of COVID-19 as well as 39,102 negative tests, according to the Eau Claire County Information Hub.

The death count now rests at 63 deaths due to COVID-19 in Eau Claire County. This is an increase of nine deaths since the last issue of COVID on campus.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected].