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August 25, 2021
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In Case You Missed It

Fall Quarter COVID-19 Campus Operations Update

As you plan to return to the university to study, work and conduct research, please see new guidelines and important reminders to promote safety for our entire campus community. This includes masking for all indoors, daily symptom and exposure screening, asymptomatic testing requirements, as well as a reminder about COVID-19 vaccination mandate compliance.  

Campus Event Planning and Attendance

As we are experiencing the Delta surge, we are continuing to revise our policies based on public health guidance to limit transmission of the virus. Non-essential indoor events are temporarily not allowed through Oct. 31, 2021, unless by vice chancellor exception. Outdoor events, while still permitted at this time, should be considered carefully to avoid large crowds; face coverings are highly encouraged. 

FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine

On Aug. 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. “While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. 

Upcoming Town Halls

Staff Town Hall

Tuesday, Aug 31 at 2 p.m.
Join us as campus leaders share updates on the Return to Learn program and address your questions related to campus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers Discover Hidden SARS-CoV-2 ‘Gate’ That Opens to Allow COVID Infection

Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists have aggressively pursued the secrets of the mechanisms that allow severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to enter and infect healthy human cells. UC San Diego Computational Biophysical Chemist Rommie Amaro—who helped develop a detailed visualization of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein early on—has now discovered with her research colleagues the way molecules in the spike protein (glycans) act as infection gateways. Read the full story.

Your Questions Answered

Question: What is the likelihood of the U.S. reaching herd immunity?
AnswerAccording to UC San Diego’s Dr. Chip Schooley, zero, at least over the next several years. “Herd immunity” in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 virus implies that we will reach a level of vaccination in the population that will result in a disappearance of the virus, ultimately protecting those who have not been vaccinated.
This virus behaves like other RNA viruses; it evolves new variants on a continual basis and it will continue to do so. As these new variants double back through the population of infected people, there will be enough circulating virus that unvaccinated people will remain at significant risk for severe illness for months or years to come. The Delta variant has complicated this further because it is three times as infectious as the virus that we dealt with at the beginning of the epidemic. Thus, when someone who is unvaccinated comes into contact with others, they can become infected much easier than they could have been in the past.
Question: Can fully vaccinated people still transmit the virus to others?
Answer: While data is still emerging about how infectious fully vaccinated people who contract COVID are, we do know that some of them have enough virus to transmit it. We do not yet have enough quantitative data to know exactly how their level and duration of infectivity compares to the unvaccinated population, but know that on average, vaccinated people who do get infected shed less virus for a shorter period of time than those who have not been vaccinated when they become infected. In addition, we know that vaccinated people also have a far lower chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus and, thus, they are responsible for far less spread of the disease. Read more about variants and the role of vaccination.
Question: Do any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States shed or release any of their components?
Answer: No. According to the CDC, vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus. mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available. Learn more on the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine myths and facts website
For more information, visit the Return to Learn Questions and Answers page.
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