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coronavirus

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unforeseen challenges for nearly everyone in our nation and world.

COVID-19 has already claimed the lives of 6.65 million people around the globe, 1.09 million of which are in the U.S. Countless more have been infected, with the illness hitting hardest the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. In this time, however, perhaps no demographic sacrificed more greatly than our youth. 

We made a decision: Would we let the kids — who were not nearly as vulnerable to the disease as their older counterparts — continue their lives as usual? Or would we limit their in-person activities and restrict their social gatherings to curb the spread of COVID-19? Given a choice between age and youth, we opted for age.

Many children were shut out from traditional social interactions during those critical early years of their emotional and psychological maturation. Sadly, many high school seniors lost their graduation ceremonies, proms and final sport seasons. 

In the absence of interpersonal connections, our young became increasingly dependent upon their technologies. Zoom sessions quickly replaced the classroom. Video games supplanted schoolyards and after-school hangouts. Their relationships with the outer world became mediated through a digital screen.

There is still much to learn about the long-term social and psychological impact of the pandemic on our youth. How will the frequent COVID scares, forced separations, quarantines and widespread social panic affect their developing minds? This remains an open question.

As we transition into the post-COVID era, we know that our young will have difficulty adapting. Right now, they need our help more than ever.

The generation that came out of World War I is often called the “Lost Generation.” A collective malaise defined their age following the shock and violence during that incredible human conflict. 

Members of the Lost Generation were often characterized by a tendency to be adrift, disengaged from public life and disconnected from any higher cause or greater purpose. Right now, our youngsters are in jeopardy of seeing a similar fate. 

Like the Great War, the COVID-19 pandemic was outside the control of our children, with the lockdowns and mandates precipitating from it. Yet, as is often the case, the young bore more than their share of hardship.

We cannot allow Gen Z to become another Lost Generation. They have suffered much already, and it is time that we repay them for their collective sacrifice. To make up for that lost time, parents and teachers must try to put in that extra effort. 

Read with them, keep up with their studies, and apply the necessary balance of support and pressure so that they can be stimulated and engaged in school. Keep them from falling behind.

Remember to limit their use of technology, encouraging instead more face-to-face encounters with their peers. These interactions may be uncomfortable, but they are essential for being a fully realized human being. Devices cannot substitute these vital exchanges.

As it is often said, difficult times foster character and grit. Perhaps these COVID years will make the young among us stronger and wiser. But we must not allow the COVID years to break them either. 

Despite their lost years, with a little effort and love they will not become another lost generation.

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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I’ve been on a long journey that’s taken me around the world for more than two and a half years. Many hosts have provided for me, enabling me to grow and, in some cases, make changes.

I don’t recall the beginning. The first host I remember was an incredibly kind doctor. She spent countless hours caring for others, looking into their eyes, assuring them she would do everything she could for them.

She was so focused on helping others that she didn’t even know she was hosting me. I stayed quiet just long enough to make the jump to a famous American actor who was working in Australia.

He and his wife didn’t enjoy their time with me. They warned the world about me and my extended family.

My next host was a businessman. He had been in a hospital with his son, who had a broken leg. The businessman stayed in the waiting room for hours, trying to do his work but unable to focus because he was so concerned about his boy.

Finally, after hours of surgery, the doctor came out to talk to him and that’s when I found a new host.

This businessman worked hard. Once he discovered his son was safe, he ignored me and my needs.

I developed without anyone noticing me. At one point, I heard someone come looking for me, but I hid just far enough away. I traveled a great distance on a plane with him. Once we were in a new country, I had so many choices.

Realizing it was time to go, I jumped to an elderly bus driver. He was a gentle man. The lighter laugh lines near his eyes looked like waves approaching the shore on his dark chocolate skin.

Before he collapsed into bed the second evening we were together, he seemed to be staring directly at me. In his house, I had a choice of other possible hosts, but decided to hitch a ride with his son.

That one almost cost me my life. His son soon realized I was there, and he stayed away from everyone. I was curled up alone with him. He barely moved for long periods of time, except when he coughed or sat up and sent text messages and emails. One night, when he was finally sleeping, a man came into his room to clean it. That’s when I escaped.

This man didn’t even know he hosted me. He wasn’t stuck in bed, and he didn’t cough. I traveled with him to several events. After other trips, I found an important politician. We took a ride in a helicopter and went to a hospital where doctors provided all kinds of new medicines.

I became like a game of telephone, passing along from one person to the next. And, like a game of telephone, the message changed, as I demanded different things from my host.

I found myself at a concert with a young woman who sang and danced for hours. She looked so vibrant and full of life.

She was a friendly enough host, until I set up camp with her mother. Then, she shouted at me, praying to keep me away. She took me to a hotel, where she seemed to stare at me while she prayed.

When someone delivered food and walked in the room to wait for payment, I made the jump to him. During the day, he was a student with a full and busy life. I didn’t stay long, moving on to his girlfriend, her roommate, and, eventually, to a professor.

I stayed with the professor for over a week. She spent considerable time grading papers, writing at her computer, talking to family members, and taking medicine.

I have made some changes along the way. I don’t travel with as much baggage as I used to. I know people think I’m not as much of a burden as I was in the early days. My most recent host would disagree. He couldn’t talk, had trouble sleeping and was exhausted all the time. I’m getting ready to travel the world again this fall and winter. You can ignore me all you want, but I’m still here, making changes and preparing to find more hosts.

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

COVID caught me. After two and a half years of bobbing and weaving, trying to elude the virus, I finally have been felled. It’s like being shot on the last day of the war. 

I did all the right things. I avoided crowds, driving back from my South Carolina vacation at the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020 instead of using my return plane ticket. I stopped going to the opera and to Broadway shows in New York City. I didn’t eat in restaurants, even after they reopened, for fear of who might be harboring pathogens at the next table. We closed the office to all but those with appointments. We ordered masks for the staff by the dozens and hand sanitizer by the gallon. We practiced social distancing at the bank, that is, before the bank closed its doors and moved away. We stopped holding events, such as “People of the Year” and “Cooks, Books and Corks” and “Reader’s Choice” that might turn into superspreaders. My family and I zoomed rather than visited. Our family holiday celebrations and vacations were suspended. And we took to our computers, to the extent we were able, for everything from classroom learning to shopping for toilet paper.

Remember all that?

Well, as much as we would like to declare the pandemic over, as President Joe Biden (D) recently did, the virus is still with us. I stopped social distancing, then recently became casual about wearing my mask. I started getting together, first with family, then with close friends, then with business colleagues. Recently, I have been eating inside a couple of restaurants. I stopped asking every repairman to please wear a mask in my house. I pushed COVID phobia way down in my consciousness.

Then I got it.

There are, of course, some differences between catching COVID early on and now. The health care professionals know so much more now about treating the disease. Hospitalizations are fewer but still some 32,000 daily, intubations are less common. But people are still dying, some 400-500 a day, to put numbers on it. Through Sept. 19, Suffolk County reported more than one death per day for the month, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health.

“We’ve had two million cases reported over the last 28 days, and we know underreporting is substantial,” Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota, was quoted in the Tuesday edition of The New York Times. He continued that COVID-19 was the No. 4 cause of death in the country.

Many of us were feeling what Biden was expressing. Yes, we have vaccines and medicines now that successfully hold the pathogen at bay, and most people have every expectation of recovering. Nonetheless, it has been a dreaded disease, especially for those of a certain age or with underlying conditions. With me, it started as a little dry cough throughout the afternoon, hardly noticeable. By nightfall, the cough had deepened and a headache began. The next day, the miserable irritation at the back of the throat started. By the end of the day, my temperature began to climb, eventually four degrees, and my body ached.

Of course, my doctor was on vacation that week, but the backup staff responded valiantly. They called me in for THE test, and when it was positive, they gave me three options. I could go to the Emergency Room and get an infusion of monoclonal antibodies, which would take an hour (not including the inevitable wait.) They could phone in a prescription for paxlovid, and I could take three pills in the morning, then three at night, for five days. They spelled out the side effects of both treatments, which didn’t sound too cheerful. Or I could just monitor the situation, drinking plenty of liquids, taking some Tylenol and see how it goes.

I chose the paxlovid.

Yes, it causes a metallic taste after it’s ingested. But it seems to have worked. 

Will I be as cavalier about relaxing precautions? No, I don’t think so. It is possible to get it again, and I REALLY don’t want it again.  I will get the next booster when I am eligible, I will continue to wear a mask regardless of what those around me are doing, and I will limit my dining, to the extent possible, to the great outdoors.

Photo from Unsplash

With Christmas this weekend, families are looking to get together for some quality time.

Last Christmas, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, people quarantined with just those in their households. It was lonely for some, but they stayed safe, away from contact with other people.

Then 2021 came around and with the vaccines we saw some hope — we began slowly peeling off our masks and traveling again. Families became reunited.

But unfortunately, that was premature and now Suffolk County is at a 14% positivity rate as of Tuesday, Dec. 21.

To put it in perspective, municipalities across New York state were shut down at 5% in the spring of 2020. We have doubled the seven-day average compared to where we were at that time and have not shut down.

And there are reasons for that. Luckily more than a year-and-a-half later we have the vaccines, we have boosters and we know that masks work — we just need to continue using them and continue using common sense.

It’s sad to think that this is the second Christmas where some families might not be able to see their loved ones out of fear. It’s sad that we as a country were doing well and now have fallen back into old habits of not taking care of ourselves and of others.

If we continue not to listen to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our health care providers and the science,

Politicians insist we won’t go into lockdown, but what will happen if the infection rate goes to 20%? What will we do if the hospitals are overfilled again?

With the comfort we felt during this past summer, newly vaccinated with restrictions lifted, some might have forgotten what early 2020 looked like. Visits to grandparents were through a window. Restaurants were not allowed to have inside dining. Disinfectants and masks were impossible to find, while bodies were kept in outside trailers because the morgue was filled to capacity.

We don’t want to head back in that direction, especially with all of the resources now available to us. We have the vaccine, we have the booster, we have masks and we know how to combat this virus. We just need to collectively do it and not treat it lightly.

So, for this holiday season, and throughout the rest of the winter, please take care of yourself, take care of others and be cautious.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

As the year draws to a close, I think of the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” That would seem an apt description of the times we are living through today. Why do I say that? Let me count the ways.

For one, we have been tricked by the coronavirus. As spring faded into summer this year, we thought the pandemic was ebbing. We gathered in groups again, even without masks, visited relatives, returned to restaurants, went on vacations. Surprise! By the end of October, the virus started making itself felt again, by November, it was led by the new variant, Omicron, and now it commands the front page of newspapers and the top of the network and cable newscasts.

Yes, we have made impressive progress with vaccines and precautions, but society is still in the grip of the disease, still with some 30 percent of the population unvaccinated, still with those refusing to don masks, and now lined up not for inoculating but for testing. Testing and boosters are the new battle cry. Just as our grandparents, who were living through it, didn’t know when WWII would end, so we who are at war with the virus don’t know when the pandemic will fade into just another annoying wintertime contagion.

For another unprecedented way in recent memory that times are interesting, we have a country so divided and vehemently at odds that neighbors, friends and family members are afraid to talk politics with each other. It is such a contrast with the 9/11 era, when we all held doors open for each other, flew the American flag together and identified as one nation. “Democracy is at risk” is the new battle cry. And the threat of political violence and random shootings simmers just beneath the surface.

Meanwhile, worthy issues involving any sort of social safety net and how to provide money for them, like pre-school education and acceptable child care enabling parents to work, lie undebated in a symbolically divided Congress. It’s no wonder that the national birthrate for this past year is the lowest since 1979. That’s not just due to the pandemic but has been a trend for the last six years.

Climate change is another subject that has driven itself to top of mind this past year. Fires, the likes of which never before seen, also floods, tornadoes and melting ice caps have changed the face of the nation and have killed many residents.

And then there is racism, the shadow that has always loomed over the United States since its inception and has burst forth to claim attention across the country, spawning marches and protests. Is it better for bigotry to come out of the woodwork and be viewed in all its aspects in the clear light of day? Perhaps that is a necessary step for it to be ultimately eradicated. Until then, the atmosphere is bitter with recriminations.

There are some bright spots. Although the possibility of spiraling inflation has lately been a concern, unemployment is decidedly low and the economy has been growing. So has the stock market, while not the economy, is nonetheless a telltale of how their financial standing is perceived by residents. Stimulative monetary policy on the part of the Federal Reserve and equally generous fiscal action by the administrations of both presidents and Congress have kept civil unrest at bay. Savings rates are at a high. And the kinks in the supply chain, although most apparent now with the gift-giving demands of the holidays, will eventually be straightened out.

Furthermore, Dec. 21 is one of my favorite days because it brings with it the longest night of the year. After that, each day has a bit more light. So I hope for whatever darkness we are presently living through to lift, and I am optimistic that it will.

Until the new year, wishing you all healthy holidays filled with devotion and love.

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It’s been a difficult 18 months, especially when we think back to the early days of the pandemic as we watched businesses across our communities adjust to state mandates after COVID-19 raged through our area. From limiting capacity to some businesses not being able to operate at all, many owners had difficulty adjusting.

Despite the lifting of state mandates a few months ago, many are still suffering.

As we look around more and more, places are closing or are in jeopardy of shutting down. In the last two weeks, we have heard the news of the Book Revue in Huntington set to close by Sept. 30. After 44 years of business, the village staple is in a financial hole.

The store had been shut down for three months during the pandemic. Once it was reopen, the business struggled to get back on its feet, and the owner fell behind on the rent.

To the east, Smithtown Performing Arts Center is having trouble holding on to its lease of the old theater. The nonprofit is also behind in its rent and has been unable to make a deal with the landlord, which led him to put the theater up for sale two weeks ago.

Both businesses received assistance during the pandemic. The Book Revue, like many others, was fortunate to receive loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program to pay employees’ salaries and keep the lights on. For SPAC, the nonprofit received a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant but needs to have a full account of debts to be able to reconcile grant monies.

With the pandemic lingering, what many people are discovering is that the assistance just artificially propped them up for a short while. Now more than ever, local businesses and nonprofits need the help of community members to enter their storefronts and buy their products. When a consumer chooses between shopping or eating locally instead of online or going to a big chain, it makes a difference.

If one looks for a silver lining in all this, it may be that many business owners have come up with innovative ways to stay open, while others have embraced curbside pickup and created websites and social media accounts that will be an asset in the future.

And while it’s sad to see so many favorite businesses closing their doors, it also paves the way for new stores with fresh ideas to come in with items such as different types of ice cream or creative giftware or clothing.

Many of our main streets need revitalization and the arrival of new businesses or current ones reinventing themselves can be just what our communities need to reimagine themselves — and not only survive but thrive in the future.

We can all help small local businesses stay afloat, whether it’s an old staple or a new place. Because at the end of the day, if a store or restaurant has been empty and the cash register reflects that, we’ll see more and more empty storefronts in our future.

Spend your money wisely — shop and eat locally.

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Intuitively we know that our behavior changed in just about every way during the unprecedented events of last year. The American Time Use Survey, a responsibility of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, asks thousands of people annually to record how they spend their daily minutes, and they came up with some research to back up our intuition on how we adapted to COVID-19 in 2020. The New York Times covered the story last Thursday, breaking out a number of categories for comparison.

As far as non-work and non-school time, the data was divided into sleeping; watching TV, movies or videos; playing games; cooking; doing housework; grooming; exercising; and texting, phone calls and video chats. It was further broken down by demographic groups: 15-24; 25-44; 45-64; and 65+. As far as sleeping goes, all the age groups slept more, with those 25-44 and 45-64 getting the most rest and both the 15-24 and the 65+ cohorts having the smallest increases. That makes sense to me because those getting more sleep are probably the primary workforce. The ones who did not have to commute as much and could sleep a little later.

The 45-64 and the 15-24 groups also spent the most extra time watching TV, movies and videos, about 25 minutes more per day. Yay for Netflix and the other streaming services who introduced us to binging. By far and away the most increase playing games was among the 15-24 folks, averaging 24 more minutes a day.  Mostly all four groups didn’t change much in the amount of cooking they did, but while the others increased slightly, the 15-24 category decreased six minutes a day.

Doing housework wasn’t much different from 2019, with the oldest category completely unchanged.

So what went down? Are you surprised to know it was grooming? The others dropped from four to seven minutes a day, but the youngest members increased four-tenths of a minute. Exercising increased four to five minutes, except for the oldest set, who decreased their exercising by five minutes daily. And everybody spent more time texting, phoning and participating in video chats, with the youngest crowd up eight minutes a day.

Last year was a difficult time for those forced to be alone. The survey tracks people during waking hours by how much time spent with people outside the household, with household members only and with those alone. The numbers for time with outsiders sank to one hour and 33 minutes less a day, while for household members, the amount rose by 31 minutes. The amount of alone time rose 57 minutes on average out of an eight-hour day. Remember all these numbers measure increases, not absolute time. For those in nursing homes, for example, who were unable to receive visitors, it was a miserably lonely year. And socializing among children was severely limited.

The greatest disruption caused by the coronavirus was in the lives of parents. With schools closed, parents became homeschoolers, particularly for children in elementary school. This burden could be in addition to working on a job from home and it affected women more than men because in most cases they carry the greater responsibility for child care. Sometimes it forced women to quit their jobs. Single mothers were particularly disrupted by the situation.

The nature of work also changed. For starters, in 2019, only one in seven people worked remotely. Last year it was one in three. And the changes laid bare disparities among workers.  Hispanic workers were more likely to lose their jobs. Black workers were most often required to go to their jobs in person, thus being more exposed to infection. White and Asian workers were often able to work from home.

There were also stark differences depending on educational levels. Those with graduate and professional degrees generally spent more hours last year working from home than in the office. Those with a high school diploma or less were often considered “essential workers” and had to function in person in the workplace, 

Will this data cause change in the future?

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The pandemic has changed the course of human history forever. As we move forward beyond all the restrictions, mask wearing and debate around being vaccinated, we are trying to create a new normal. No one is quite sure what that might look like.

Whatever the new normal looks like, we need to transcend all of the political rhetoric and polarization that has infected the soul of our nation. We need to reclaim basic respect for people, no matter what their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and/or socioeconomic status.

Our vision has become so blurred; our moral compass impaired. Those we have elected to lead us, no matter what their political party, need to lead by example.

Our country was founded on diversity and freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to trample on another person’s freedom or perspective. 

The pandemic has consumed so many of our healthcare resources to care for those infected by the virus. Our healthcare community, with great courage, rose to the occasion and have been heroic in their care for all of our sick. Unfortunately, other healthcare concerns have not had the proper attention. Everyone in leadership, on both the federal and state level, have acknowledged the heroin epidemic is a national healthcare crisis. However, no money promised has reached the rank-and-file providers. Insurance companies continue to determine the financial equation for treatment. The recidivism rate based on their equation is dismal and becoming worse by the day.

Outpatient treatment for the heroin addict is a disaster — 28 days for hard-core relapsers is just the beginning. To tell the truth, most insurance companies will only cover 11 days of residential treatment because they’ve decided that after 11 days it’s not a medical emergency! That’s disgraceful!

It is apparent to me that they have not looked at the evidence-based research in regards to chronic heroin users and relapses. The research is clear — they need a minimum of 12 to 18 months with the hope of reclaiming their lives and developing the skills to sustain a life of abstinence and recovery.

What we are painfully learning is that we need to invest more resources after intensive treatment into transitional supportive services to ensure a recovering person success.

In the last six weeks, I have buried six young people who overdosed and died of heroin and fentanyl. Each of these young persons was in a variety of residential treatment settings. I am one cleric in a small region. Sadly, the number is probably triple that and not getting better.

Addicts do recover and reclaim their lives thanks to a collaborative effort on the part of many. On Memorial Day, a young recovering addict who was once a high school dropout and is now a successful attorney was married in New Jersey to another lawyer. I was privileged to preside at the ceremony and when it was finished, he whispered this to me: “thanks for helping me to reclaim my life. I will never forget you. I will always give back!”

On another positive note, a shout out to our Marine Bureau in Suffolk County. On a Saturday afternoon this month I was driving a boat to Davis Park where I am the pastor. The boat was filled with musicians in recovery who were going to play at the 5 p.m. mass there. We got halfway from Patchogue to Davis Park and the boat overheated. We were drifting in the great South Bay. Two police officers who were finishing their tour at Davis Park came out of their way to tow us in time for mass instead of just signing off. I am forever grateful to these two public servants for their service but also for their power of example for the young men in the boat who witnessed their service and kindness.

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Photo from Town of Smithtown

The Town of Smithtown Senior Center has announced the full reopening of the Eugene Cannataro Senior Citizens Center. In person programming began last month, with the partial reopening focused on center clubs and activities. Rigorous cleaning and safety precautions were also implemented to ensure the health and wellbeing of the membership. The Senior Center will begin full scale operations, including meal services, on Monday, June 28.

“It is an honor to officially welcome back our residents to the Eugene Cannataro Senior Citizens Center. This could not be possible without Laura Greif, and the dedicated, compassionate team at the Senior Center… Registration is on the rise, with 22 new members signed up just this week. People are eager to safely socialize and gather again. I am truly grateful for this day and look forward to seeing many smiling faces enjoying all the center has to offer,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim.

A welcome back Karaoke party is scheduled for June 30. Additionally, the annual July 4th celebration is set for Friday, July 2. Senior Center Program favorites including Zumba, quilting, gardening and strength training are all featured on the monthly calendar. Clubs have also begun to conduct their bi-weekly meetings. The Senior Center staff is currently in the process of planning outings and trips for the membership to take advantage of. Coffee & bagels and Lunch services will be offered effective June 28th. The pool room is currently open.

In March of 2020, the Eugene Cannataro Senior Citizens Center was required, under New York State Executive Order, to close its doors to the public, at the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Supervisor Wehrheim worked closely with Senior Center Director Laura Greif and her team to arrange for weekly meal delivery for those residents who relied on the meal programs. Under Greif’s leadership, the Senior Center staff worked diligently to set up a number of services and programs to assist the most vulnerable of Smithtown’s population as each resident was forced to shelter in place.

Harris Friedman and the Transportation Unit worked to drive senior residents to grocery stores, and doctor appointments/wellbeing visits. Patty Bornhoft maintained the edible garden last summer, and delivered the weekly harvest of vegetables, fruit and herbs to the Garden Club members. In addition to checking in on the membership, regularly, Victoria Rice made over 400 face masks for distribution. Home Repair crews focused on facilitating outdoor projects, and minor exterior home maintenance.

Senior Center Director Laura Greif began daily ZOOM meetings to connect with the membership on a more personal basis. Then in January of 2021, a massive coordinated effort between the Supervisor’s Office, NY State, St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center and the Senior Center began in order to arrange vaccine appointments for Senior Citizens in the Community. In Spring, the Town of Smithtown conducted two vaccine sites; in Kings Park and at the Senior Center in Smithtown, successfully vaccinating close to 600 residents.

Eugene Cannataro Senior Center hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 am – 4:00 pm through July 1st. Summer Hours (July 1st – August 31) are Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.

Eugene Cannataro Senior Center is located at 420 Middle Country Road in Smithtown.

 

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Photo from Deposit Photos

One of the larger centers for the Novavax vaccine trials, Stony Brook University Hospital recruited 376 patients for a potential fourth vaccine against COVID-19 .

Benjamin Luft

The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based company announced earlier this week that its vaccine was effective in 90.4% of the participants in its phase 3 trials, which is typically the last clinical hurdle before approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The trials occurred in the United States and Mexico.

With 30,000 people participating in the clinical study, the Stony Brook participants accounted for about 1.25% of the total study group.

“The quality of our data is among the highest,” said Benjamin Luft, chief investigator of the Novavax trial and director and principal investigator of the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program.

At its peak, the Novavax trials, which began on Dec. 28, involved 10 to 12 full-time staff at Stony Brook to prepare and administer the vaccines.

“The staff worked extremely hard,” Luft said. “I think everybody takes a great deal of satisfaction in being a small part of this great machine that ultimately produced these vaccines that we all benefit from.”

Novavax reportedly plans to produce as many as 100 million doses of the vaccine per month starting in the third quarter and as many as 150 million per month in the fourth quarter.

The Novavax vaccine, which received $1.6 billion from Operation Warp Speed in 2020, differs from the other three approved vaccines. Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna use messenger RNA and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a combination of the gene for the spike protein with an altered adenovirus, which causes the common cold.

Novavax, by contrast, uses a piece of the spike protein from COVID-19 to train the immune system to recognize the foreign invader.

Vaccine providers can store the Novavax vaccine, which requires two doses, at typical refrigerator temperatures, unlike the mRNA vaccines, which require ultra cold storage. The Novavax vaccines are usable for up to three months after they are stored.

Luft said the vaccine might have a real benefit in places that don’t have these cold storage facilities.

Earlier one morning this week, Luft received several emails from colleagues in South America who had heard about the trial and knew he was involved.

“They are so excited for their countries that they could get access to such a vaccine,” Luft said.

The clinical trials for Novavax occurred at a time when the original Wuhan strain, which formed the basis for the vaccine, wasn’t the only COVID-19 threat.

“The variants that were in the community were different” during the Novavax trial, Luft said. The vaccine was not retooled for the new variant, which is what made the results so encouraging.

Like the other vaccines, the Novavax vaccine had some side effects, which included fever, head aches and soreness at the site of the injection that went away over the course of a day or two.

At this point, Novavax plans to submit its data for potential approval to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the third quarter.

Luft expressed his appreciation for the opportunity Stony Brook and the residents in the area who participated in the study had to contribute to this effort.

“I was just so delighted” with the results, Luft added. “It was just so gratifying to be a part of the cog in the great wheel” for a process that proved effective.