Recently, rumors have swept campus that Albion College students, staff, and faculty are immune to COVID-19. Not only is this false, but spread of misinformation could ultimately delay campus community members from reaching immunity.
“It is not a rumor based on any data or science,” said Mattew Arend, Albion’s COVID-19 Coordinator, via email.
Last winter, when COVID-19 became a disturbing reality in China, Albion students and staff members fell sick with an illness that embodied flu-like symptoms. Later on, many assumed this to have been an undiagnosed outbreak of COVID-19.
Often referred to as the “Albion Plague,” this annual winter illness sounds much more daunting than it actually is.
“It just refers to the cold and flu season we have in the winter, and folks being together in the dorms, and it’s spreading around campus and that kind of stuff, so the ‘Albion Plague’ is usually just a bad virus that goes around, undefined, that happens every year,” said Brad Rabquer, director of the Wilson Institute for Medicine.
For Albion’s campus to be immune, however, more than 70% of the population would have had to come in contact with the virus. Fortunately, cases have remained low thanks to the college’s strict COVID-19 policies.
To explain Albion’s low positive case count for COVID-19, the module system, regular testing and class rosters have systematically limited exposure by restricting cross-examination.
“By desegregating, by making sure people aren’t in crowded areas, by doing things a lot outside, you are limiting the tendency for the virus to associate hosts,” said biology professor Dr. Ola Olapade.
The only other way for Albion’s campus to be immune to COVID-19 would be through vaccinations.
Decades of science and research have led to the success of current vaccinations. Early trials showed that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were both safe and efficient, and on April 5, all Michigan residents 16 and older will be eligible to receive a vaccine.
“We’re excited to see some of that vaccine-acquired immunity starting to hit campus with our older community members, and then in April, everybody has the chance,” said Rabquer.
“These vaccines are safe, they’re highly effective, and they are effective at preventing serious illness and death in the strains that have been identified,” said Rabquer.
For now, students, staff and faculty are encouraged to maintain social distancing, wear masks and get tested when showing symptoms. Community testing is being offered by the State of Michigan at Washington Gardner High School three days a week.