Vaccines on the horizon

By Jon Quinn (TheLorian)

A biotechnology firm called Moderna has developed a vaccine that was found to be about 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. This is the second vaccine in the past week to have over 90 percent effectiveness. Pfizer, a pharmaceutical giant, was the first to report their vaccine last week.

We are seeing another surge in COVID-19 cases which prompted Iowa governor Kim Reynolds to order a mask mandate for people whenever they are in a public space indoors without social distancing. The vaccine is great news during a raging pandemic around the holiday season.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trail provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer chairman and CEO.

Although these results from the vaccine come in the first interim analysis, the initial results are far better than expected. The FDA stated earlier that they’d be content with a 50 percent effectiveness. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) commented saying that he’d be happy with a 70 percent effectiveness. The testing of the vaccine enrolled 43,538 participants. Of those enrolled, only 94 individuals tested positive for COVID-19.

The Pfizer press release states “After discussion with the FDA, the companies recently elected to drop the 32-case interim analysis and conduct the first interim analysis at a minimum 62 cases. Upon the conclusion of those discussions, the evaluable case count reached 94 and the DMC performed its first analysis on all cases. The case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%, at 7 days after the second dose.”

In Iowa alone, there is a record high for current hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients totaling 1,510. Dubuque County currently has 50 individuals hospitalized. Unfortunately, Dubuque also has a test positivity rate of about 24.8 percent over a 14-day average. There are currently 3,117 active cases of COVID-19 in the Dubuque County, in addition to six long-term care facility outbreaks.

The long-term care facilities include Dubuque Specialty Care (6 positives, 2 recoveries), Luther Manor Communities (76 positives, 18 recoveries), ManorCare Health Services (11 positives, 5 recoveries), MercyOne Dyersville Care (35 positives, 5 recoveries), Shady Rest Care Center (7 positives, 2 recoveries), and Sunnycrest Manor (21 positives, 18 recoveries).

Free, local COVID-19 testing options include two Test Iowa clinics in Dubuque County for all Iowa residents. The first location is Epic Health and Wellness. In order to be tested at this location, you first have to take the Test Iowa assessment at www.testiowa.com. All testing at this location is by appointment, Monday through Friday. After taking the assessment, call 563.583.6595 to schedule an appointment, or schedule online at Epichealth.net.

The second free testing location is Grand River Medical Group at their Respiratory Clinic location, 1400 University Ave., Apt. #6. They’re open from Mondays – Thursdays, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Fridays from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. by appointment only. Schedule online on the Test Iowa website after completing the questionnaire at www.testiowa.com. You will receive a QR code and may request an appointment at a local clinic location. No appointments can be made over the phone. Drive-up testing is not offered at this location.

Nationally, the United States has a total of over 11.1 million cases with about 246 thousand deaths. Worldwide, there is a total of 54.2 million cases and 1.31 million deaths.

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Jon is currently a junior who is double-majoring in Media Studies and Public Relations. He is heavily involved at Loras as a campus photographer, residential adviser, and a sports editor for the school newspaper, The Lorian.

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