Aug. 13 - Top takeaways from today’s town hall, PCR test effectiveness
A group including Vice Chancellor Willie L. Banks Jr. and Melissa Falkenstein, senior director of facilities operations and capital projects, tour the Verano 8 construction site. Verano 8 is UCI Housing's newest graduate housing development, housing nearly 1,000 graduate students, and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022. Photo by Corey Tull
Each day, a UCI expert will answer one of your questions about COVID-19, vaccinations, variants or the future of work. Submit questions via email.
Today’s two questions are fielded by Philip Felgner, professor in residence of physiology and biophysics, and director of UCI’s Vaccine Research and Development Center. Professor Felgner recently won a prestigious award for his contributions to designing COVID-19 vaccines.
I heard that the CDC recently revoked emergency use authorization for the PCR test for COVID-19, because the test produced too many false positives. Is this true?
In December of this year, the CDC is planning to retire its own original PCR diagnostic test that it developed at the very beginning of the pandemic. This is because the FDA has authorized hundreds of other SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests with higher throughput that can test for more than one illness at a time. The original test is not being withdrawn because it produced too many false positives.
So should we be concerned about false positive PCR test results?
A certain number of false positives are to be expected, and as the prevalence of COVID-19 declines, the percentage of false positives increases. At the same time, the positive predictive ability of the PCR test declines. Where PCR tests are especially useful is to confirm COVID-19 in the subgroup of symptomatic individuals. This is a group where the prevalence of true COVID-19 is higher than in the population as a whole.
(Read more at FactCheck.org.)
Top takeaways from today’s town hall
If you missed today’s Health Affairs Town Hall on COVID-19, here are a few nuggets:
Cases across America and California continue to increase.
COVID-19 vaccines remain 93-97% protective against severe disease from all variants. This includes hospitalization and death.
How do we stop variants? Vaccinate.
Full FDA approval is expected for Pfizer and Moderna at the end of this month.
The Pfizer vaccine could receive emergency use authorization for children 5-11 years old by the FDA this winter, and for 2-5 year olds a few months after that. For children 6 months to 2 years old, the expected timeframe is early 2022.
Boosters (a 3-dose series) are expected to receive approval this fall for Pfizer and Moderna.
UCI Health has updated their FAQs. Answers are in both English and Spanish.
All UC employees and students are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination (or apply for an exemption, exception or deferral). At UCI, the deadline for compliance is Sept. 6.
Non-compliance with the UC Vaccine Policy will result in escalating discipline.
Everyone – students and employees – is reminded that the daily symptom check is still required.
Students, staff and faculty not fully vaccinated need to participate in weekly asymptomatic testing and masking.
Drop-in asymptomatic testing for all students, staff, and faculty will be available on campus by the fall quarter.
The Future of Work website has information and resources for faculty and staff returning to work on campus either full time or in a hybrid model.
The video replay is available via Vimeo.
UCI ANNOUNCEMENTS AND NEWS
Bridging the Gap: Transgender Health Equity
The needs of gender-nonconforming children can be unique, and are often overlooked by the healthcare community. In this latest installment of the Bridging the Gap series that focuses on health equity, Brit Cervantes, program coordinator for the UCI Pediatric Gender Diversity Program, shines a light on healthcare challenges that these children face.
UC NEWS AND GENERAL NEWS
Friday fun fact
Rising enrollment: Since 1994, undergraduate enrollment in the UC system has declined only once, in 2004.
Extra COVID vaccine OK’d for those with weak immune systems
U.S. regulators say transplant recipients and others with severely weakened immune systems can get an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to better protect them as the delta variant continues to surge, the AP reports.
How To Have Your Vaccine Confirmation On You At All Times
More and more employers, businesses and venues are requiring proof of vaccination, but the 4 inch by 3 inch cards issued by the CDC to everyone who gets at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine aren’t exactly sturdy. NPR suggests some ways to protect and carry your vaccine documentation.
Thriving in a Hybrid Work Environment
Tuesday at 11 a.m. (sponsored UCI Human Resources)
Visit today.uci.edu to see and submit event listings. Events of general interest will be shared in UCI Digest two days before they occur.
UCI IN THE NEWS
United, Frontier, Hawaiian require employees to get vaccinated. Will passengers care?
Los Angeles Times, Aug. 13
Cited: Jan Brueckner, distinguished professor economics
Newsom: Unvaccinated can end COVID pandemic in a month. Can they really?
The Mercury News, Aug. 13
Cited: Andrew Noymer, associate professor of population health and disease prevention
Conversations in Cardiology: Music in the Cath Lab?
TCTMD, Aug. 12
Cited: Pranav Patel, MD, interventional cardiology and cardiovascular disease
COVID-19 NOTIFICATION AND RESOURCES
Remember to upload your vaccine record
Vaccination is a critical step toward our campus's fall return. Help our community by uploading your vaccine record.
Potential workplace exposure
UCI provides this notification of a potential workplace COVID-19 exposure. Employees and subcontractors who were in these locations on the dates listed may have been exposed to the coronavirus. You may be entitled to various benefits under applicable federal and state laws and University-specific policies and agreements. The full notification is available on the UCI Forward site. If you have been identified as a close contact to a COVID-19 case, the UCI Contact Tracing Program will contact you and provide additional direction.
For COVID-19 questions
UCI Forward - information on campus status and operational updates
UCI Health COVID-19 Updates - important information related to UCI Health
UCI Coronavirus Response Center - available at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (949) 824-9918
Contact Tracing and Vaccine Navigation Services - assistance with vaccines and vaccine uploads; available at email@example.com or via phone at (949) 824-2300
Program in Public Health chatline - answers to questions about COVID-19