Infectious disease expert shares ways to continue navigating pandemic

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:46 PM EST
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Dr. Oveta Fuller, from the University of Michigan, is a woman who has dedicated her life and work to sharing information on viruses and vaccines.

On Thursday, she explained the best ways to continue navigating the pandemic. She shared her expertise on infectious diseases and how to get information out as part of a lecture for the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

Fuller works to take this information to undeserved communities and says whether you’re getting the vaccine, you need to keep following public health guidance to ride this pandemic out.

She spent the first part of her presentation explaining how COVID comes from a family of coronaviruses, but she says it’s this spikey structure that makes it stand out. The virus originated from animals, quickly reproducing inside cells to become a national pandemic March 11, 2020.

“Viruses are not cells; they’re parasites, and they have to get into the cell and go through processes that allow them to make more virus,” Fuller said.

She said there’s no way to fix where we are now, but you can prevent the virus from getting into your body.

“We have not done the best that we could with these, but I am hopeful that now that we understand and now that we have another tool of vaccines in our toolbox,” Fuller said.

Fuller said scientists don’t put the whole virus in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines; instead, they use messenger RNA that encodes the spike.

“The cells recognize it, make the viral protein, put that on our cells and say, ‘this is not me’,” Fuller said. “The immune system comes in and makes antibodies and memory cells that when you see that spike again on the real virus, you know that it should be destroyed.”

She said our job is to shut down the virus replication, whether that’s by following public health guidance or getting the vaccine.

“The more the virus reproduces, the more opportunity it has to change and adapt to get around our immune systems and make new virus variants. That’s the danger of allowing COVID-19 to continue,” Fuller said.

According to Fuller, if you do decide to get the vaccine, you need to find out the date of your second injection and register in V-SAFE so you can report any symptoms you might have.

Fuller said we can adapt to pandemics—when it comes to the vaccine you must make the best decision for you—and no matter what, keep implementing those preventative measures to keep yourself and others safe.

You can watch the entire lecture here.

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