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UAlbany Experts Available to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

University at Albany, State University of New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 19, 2020) – The United States has now surpassed 11 million COVID-19 cases since February and many Americans are scrambling to figure out how to safely celebrate the upcoming holiday season. But, promising vaccine news could signal a start to the end of this historic pandemic.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced yesterday that a final analysis of their latest vaccine clinical trial results showed it was 95 percent effective against the virus. Moderna shared their own results on Monday, indicating a 94.5 percent effective rate.

University at Albany experts are available to discuss the challenges ahead and what can be done to increase public trust once a vaccine is approved.

Eli Rosenberg, School of Public Health

Rosenberg, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, has provided technical assistance to New York’s COVID-19 response across a range of activities and studies addressing critical aspects of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, surveillance, prevention and treatment.

He is also a member of Gov. Cuomo’s New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force and has offered expertise on COVID-19 epidemiology to the Governor’s office, the SUNY system, UAlbany and during numerous local and national media appearances.

“Having a highly efficacious COVID-19 vaccine is an important step towards controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2. In order to fully realize the protective value of such a vaccine, we need to ensure its widespread distribution, access, and uptake. This will pose substantial challenges in the months ahead, particularly as we endeavor to ensure health equity. With the right investments, coordination, and community engagement, we can do this, but we must be honest about the scale of the public health challenge ahead.”

Rosenberg has extensive experience in conducting studies that address current public health challenges in HIV, STI, viral hepatitis, and emerging infectious diseases, with a focus on surveillance, prevention and social determinants.

Samantha Penta, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC)

Penta is an assistant professor at CEHC and emergency management expert with a focus on health and medical issues during a crisis, decision-making in preparedness and response and humanitarian logistics. She has worked on numerous projects examining disaster donations behavior, planning and implementing international crisis medical relief, risk perception and protective actions.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Penta has lead a study funded through a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant to examine risk perception, information seeking and protective actions against COVID-19 in New York, Louisiana and Washington. Her analysis is running at monthly intervals in order to capture changing behavior responses as the pandemic evolves.

"Achieving widespread vaccination is more than a medical research and production problem. It is also an issue of logistics and human behavior.”

“From a logistics perspective, it will entail everything from ensuring sufficient production of other components like syringes, to acquiring appropriate transportation and storage resources, identifying appropriate vaccination locations, and navigating a potential greater demand for PPE and testing capabilities. Once the infrastructure is established, it is ultimately the human dimension – things like perceptions of vaccine safety and effectiveness, and financial and time constraints – that will shape vaccination prevalence in our communities."

About the University at Albany:

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.

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