Boston University Weekly COVID-19 Report: April 7 to 13
More than 1,700 members of the BU community have uploaded proof of vaccination; COVID cases still on the rise
Boston University publishes its COVID-19 testing data on a public-facing dashboard. Gloria Waters, BU vice president and associate provost for research, and Judy Platt, director of BU Student Health Services, provide a weekly update on the overall health of the BU community.
Between April 7 and 13, 34 students and 15 faculty and staff tested positive for coronavirus at Boston University. The Brink asked Judy Platt and Gloria Waters to answer a few key questions on COVID-19 at BU.
With Judy Platt and Gloria Waters
The Brink: How is BU doing overall this week?
Waters: One thing that’s been really successful is the number of BU students who have uploaded their vaccine documentation. Since the BU Today article went out about how to do it, hundreds of new submissions have flooded in.
Platt: We’ve now received more than 1,700 “proof of vaccination” uploads. It’s hugely important for us to be able to understand who’s been vaccinated as we plan for the fall semester and aspire to get to a new normal. If you’ve been vaccinated, but haven’t yet submitted your information, please do so as soon as possible.
COVID cases are on the rise in the surrounding community and at BU. How is BU responding?
Platt: People are gathering, they are getting fatigued with social distancing and wearing masks. To stop the spread of COVID, we need to know where spread is occurring. We’re asking people to proactively reach out to BU Healthway and let us know about any gatherings you’re participating in. It’s not so that we can take punitive action. On the contrary—it’s so that we can do adaptive testing to make sure that that group gets extra testing to identify any new COVID cases as soon as possible.
BU announced earlier this week it would require all students to receive COVID vaccines before the fall 2021 semester. Have you been hearing feedback about this?
Waters: There are a lot of questions coming up. Right now we’re really focused on getting people who have been vaccinated already to submit their information so that we have a sense of where our population is, in terms of percentage vaccinated.
Platt: The vaccine requirement won’t kick in until the fall, and until we get closer to the fall semester there may be questions we don’t yet have answers to. By then, will there be even more types of vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration? Will vaccines from other countries that haven’t received EUA from the FDA be acceptable? We don’t know yet what the vaccine landscape will look like in a few months, but we’re carefully considering how we’ll enforce compliance with the vaccine mandate.
What are your thoughts on the news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being paused?
Platt: While it’s unfortunate that there were a small number of adverse side effects, it’s great that the information about those six cases was communicated quickly and broadly. It’s a testament to the fact that [public health authorities] are paying close attention to the COVID vaccine safety profiles. We are prepared that the pause in J&J vaccines may cause a slowdown in people in our community being able to get vaccinated.
Gloria Waters has spearheaded teams of BU scientists in their development and deployment of a campus-wide COVID-19 testing program and mathematical modeling of community behavior. Judy Platt, chair of BU’s Medical Advisory Group, oversees clinical management and isolation of students and employees who test positive for coronavirus, and helps manage BU’s contact tracing efforts. They are co-chairs of BU’s Vaccine Preparedness Group, which is overseeing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines allocated to BU by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
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