WMU creates ‘COVID-19 Task Force’ in response to coronavirus threat

WMU's Sindecuse Health Center.

With the amount of information around new COVID-19 variants, vaccines and the pandemic itself, it can be difficult to make sense of it all. Western Michigan University Libraries hosted a virtual COVID Infodemic event on Feb. 9 called, "Making Sense of COVID-19 Information," hoping to solve this problem. 

Librarian Dianna Sachs said it’s essential for people to have accurate information about COVID-19. 

“I see so many people in our society confused about the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sachs said. “We are bombarded with information from our 24-hour news cycle, from social media, from well-meaning friends and family. And so often we hear contradictory advice from these sources. When our own health and that of our community is at stake, it’s even more vital than ever that everyone is able to navigate this sea of COVID-19 information and to think critically about information sources.” 

The COVID Infodemic event went over viruses, which are a capsule with genetic material in it. These viruses reproduce by invading and hijacking cells. 

The event also overviewed the different vaccines available to the public. These include Whole-Pathogen, Live-Attenuates, Submit and Nucleic Acid vaccines. 

Whole-Pathogen vaccines are whole pathogens being injected into the body and it is killed before injection, leaving the pathogen to float around the body upon injection. Live-Attenuated vaccines are also whole pathogen vaccines, but they are weakened, not killed upon injection. Subunit vaccines have components of the pathogen and antigens.  

Nucleic Acid vaccines have genetic instructions for making the antigen, these are also known as Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are Nucleic Acid vaccines. 

Three different variants of the coronavirus have been circulating globally as well. The United Kingdom identified a variant called B.1.1.7 and has been recently found in Kalamazoo County

Other variants include B.1.351 in South Africa, and P.1 in Brazil. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, but current tests and vaccines for COVID-19 will still work against them. 

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