Story by Kristi Jones / Contributing Writer
Millions of COVID-19 vaccines are being sent out around the world, but new variants of the virus have confused the Center for Disease Control and companies making new vaccines. The community, state and world have seen the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases since March.
Middle Tennessee State University’s COVID cases peaked on Nov. 19, the week before students left for Thanksgiving and winter break. The week that students and faculty returned to campus, 45 students reported a positive test, along with five employees.
MTSU is now providing free testing for students exposed to COVID-19 and those who are showing symptoms. There is a drive-through area in the health services parking lot where testing will be held; students are asked to not come inside the clinic; to instead call the nurse inside at (615)-494-7745. After making an appointment, students need to bring a driver’s license and insurance for processing.
Tennessee’s number of cases peaked on Jan. 2 at almost 17,000. On Jan. 31, there were 2,500 new cases. In the United States, the number of cases peaked on Jan. 8 with over 300,000 cases. On Jan. 31 there were 112,000 new cases; this showed a continuous decrease. Worldwide, cases peaked on Jan. 20 with over 1.7 million new cases. On Jan. 31 there were over 500,000 new cases. This is also part of a downward trend in new cases.
More than 60 vaccines are going through the third stage of clinical trials.
Johnson & Johnson announced last week that their vaccine is in its third phase. The vaccine has been said to be 66 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 and 85 percent effective in preventing more severe cases. It was 57 percent effective in the South African variant.
Novavax has also created a vaccine in the U.K. that is in its third phase of testing. The vaccine is showing to be 89.3 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. The vaccine’s phase two showed to be 49.4 percent effective against the South African variant.
Novavax stated that the company is working on developing a booster that will better protect against all variants.
The CDC announced that there are several things that they do not know about COVID-19 variants. The CDC stated that they are not sure how far the variants have spread, how the disease caused by the variants differ from known variants and how the variants work against vaccines and testing.
This means that the virus could possibly spread quicker, not test positive on current tests and change the effectiveness of the vaccines that have been approved.
Healthcare workers, those with high risk and adults aged 65 and up have been allowed to recieve the vaccine. Several MTSU students have received the vaccine for their work in healthcare; including hospitals and offices.
Leanne Ott is a junior majoring in Marketing at MTSU who works in a healthcare office around those who have possibly been exposed. Ott received her first Moderna vaccination at Seigel High School and the second three weeks later via drive-through at the State Farm building.
“I will still be very concerned about not contracting the virus, but I have already found myself not stressing out as much as before. I do go out more, but I am remaining cautious and wearing a mask,” Ott said.
Ott described her side effects as minimal, just having a sore arm.
Anna Kay Cook is also a junior majoring in Nursing. Cook was able to receive the vaccine after getting a recommendation from the hospital she will be working at during clinicals. She said that she was thankful for the opportunity to receive the vaccine and that “it is a great step in a positive direction during this pandemic.”
“For my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine my only side effect was a sore arm. For my second dose, my arm wasn’t as sore, but the next day I felt muscle aches and chills. This didn’t last for long” Cook said.
Several companies have created vaccines outside of the United States. Bharat Biotech is creating a vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use in India and Sinopharm has created their vaccine that is in use in China. Sinovac has created a vaccine that is approved for limited use in China and Indonesia.
The University of Oxford has created a vaccine in the U.K. that has been approved for the U.K., Argentina and India. A Russian company, The Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology has created a vaccine in use in Belarus, Argentina and Venezuela.
Zydus Cadila has created a DNA-based vaccine that is delivered via a skin patch. It just entered the third phase of testing. The Research Institute for Biological Safety Problems created a vaccine that has been granted temporary registration in Kazakhstan.
There are currently not enough vaccinations for everyone in the United States and in the world, but the CDC and similar organizations are working to get as many people vaccinated and to continue to learn about the variants of COVID-19.
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