Covid-19 Developments as We Head Into 2021

Yesterday, President Callahan sent an update about the fact that undergraduate and graduate programs will remain primarily onlinewhen the new University term starts in January.  I would like to confirm that we continue to stay in touch with our local department of public health, and that the Dugoni School will continue to hold our didactic courses online and provide essential clinical care services in our clinics on site here on campus along with simulation training to prepare students for clinical care.

I would like to call your attention to a webinar taking place today at 9:00 am PT. Closing America's Oral Health Gap is presented by DentaQuest and hosted by Politico. Notable speakers will cover what it will take to improve access and quality of oral health care for Americans, especially for the most vulnerable. Learn more here

I would also like to share some links shared with me yesterday from the COVID-19 Public-Private Partner Dental Coordination Group. I realize this is a lot of information, but there are many developments taking place each day, particularly on the fast-moving topic of vaccine approval and distribution.

FDA Posts the Research Report on the Pfizer Vaccine:  The FDA posted online background material for this week’s upcoming Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) public meeting. The VRBPAC will meet in open session today (December 10), to discuss Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older.

December 10, 2020 – FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) Meeting to discuss the request for emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer, Inc. (livecast)

December 11, 2020 – Deadline for jurisdictions to tell CDC/OWS where they want their second allocations of vaccine to be delivered.

December 17, 2020 – FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) Meeting to discuss the request for emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc. (live-cast)

HHS Publishes COVID-19 Hospital Facility-Level Data: HHS released new hospital COVID-19 capacity data at the facility level. Previously released data about hospital capacity that had been released was aggregated at the state level. This new, more granular data release aggregates daily hospital reports into a "week at a time" picture to protect patient privacy, while providing a view of how COVID-19 is impacting hospitals and local communities across the country. With this data release, how hospitals are impacted by COVID-19 will be shown on a per-hospital basis, allowing researchers, policy makers, and others to have greater insights into local COVID-19 response efforts. This time series data will update weekly, going back to August 1, 2020.

CombatCovid.hhs.gov is New Portal for Volunteers for Clinical Trials and Convalescent Plasma Donation:  How about a one-stop-shop for encouraging people to consider volunteering for prevention and treatment trials?  This is the place to go for those who either (1) have never had COVID-19 and are interested in participating in a prevention trial, or (2) have recovered from COVID-19 and would consider donating convalescent plasma to help others recover.

Study of Healthcare Workers Shows COVID-19 Immunity Lasts Many Months: NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins released a blogpost about a study among healthcare workers that shows COVID-19 immunity lasts many months. New findings from a study of thousands of healthcare workers in England show that those who got COVID-19 and produced antibodies against the virus are highly unlikely to become infected again, at least over the several months that the study was conducted. In the rare instances in which someone with acquired immunity for SARS-CoV-2 subsequently tested positive for the virus within a six month period, they never showed any signs of being ill.

OSAP Webinars: Thank you to Professor Eve Cuny for your involvement in these webinars!  The Organization for Safety, Asepsis, and Prevention (OSAP) is holding a four-part COVID-19 Webinar Series providing specific infection prevention and control information for dental settings. These webinars will be recorded for future access and each will be worth 1 CE hour (ADA CERP Credit), provided through OSAP. The next webinar, COVID-19 Guidance for Dental Assistants, will be held on Friday, December 11, at 4:00 pm ET / 1:00 pm PT. Register here

To end this long update about the advancements of science to help overcome the fear around the pandemic, I thought it appropriate to end with this quote.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ―Marie Curie