New York Institute of Technology
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As of November 11, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 10 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 237,000 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic. In addition, COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths are expected to increase in the upcoming months. However, there is positive news in regard to vaccine development, which will be the focus of this update.

Stages of Vaccine Development
There are six general stages in the development of a vaccine:
The third stage, Clinical Development, is a three- to four-phase process. During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded, and the vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety. An ensuing Phase IV includes ongoing studies after a vaccine is approved.

Updates: COVID Vaccines in Development
Worldwide, a host of vaccines are being evaluated. The good news is that, according to the CDC as of November 4, four vaccines have begun Phase III large-scale clinical trials in the United States. One of the most promising is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has received a lot of media attention. In this trial, 94 participants out of nearly 44,000 have become ill due to COVID-19. An independent panel of experts assessed how many received the vaccine and how many received a placebo, then compared the two groups. Early analysis suggests the vaccine is over 90% effective. To complete the clinical trial, 164 participants need become ill with COVID-19 and a final analysis will be performed. The current 90% effective rate can still change, but it is a very good start.

After getting past the Clinical Development stage, the next stages must be completed. Meanwhile, some are projecting that the vaccine will be available before the end of this calendar year. A range of concerns remain, though, including how long the vaccine-acquired immunity will last, how quickly and to whom the new vaccine will be distributed, and whether the general public will trust this new vaccine. Finally, distributing and injecting such a large amount of vaccine, which will likely have to be refrigerated, has inherent logistical challenges. Nonetheless, this is still positive news, demonstrating that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Additional information regarding COVID-19 vaccines can be found on the CDC website.

Community Mitigation and Resources
As we await a new vaccine, we should all remain cognizant that we are in the midst of a worsening pandemic. Therefore, we should all continue to engage in community mitigation activities such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and remaining at home if we feel ill or symptomatic.

As always, the New York community is welcome to make an appointment for a COVID test at the Academic Health Care Center on Long Island by calling 516.686.1300. Those who may continue to feel anxious or uneasy can reach out to Counseling and Wellness Services at our campuses in Long Island (516.686.7683) or New York City (212.261.1773) to talk or make a virtual appointment.

Sincerely,

Brian L. Harper, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief Medical Officer, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine
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