Coronavirus, Public Health What do variants and vaccines mean for COVID-19’s ‘new normal’?

September 2, 2021
By Erica K. Brockmeier | Penn Today

Kicking off the academic year with the first of its weekly “The World Today” seminars, Perry World House hosted an in-depth discussion with vaccine safety expert Paul Offit and virologist Susan R. Weiss on the future of COVID-19. During the online event, moderated by Jennifer Pinto-Martin, Offit and Weiss shared their expertise on vaccines and viruses while discussing how coronavirus variants arise, the effectiveness of current vaccines, and how public health measures might evolve.

After an introduction by LaShawn Jefferson, deputy director of Perry World House, Pinto-Martin, a new Perry World House fellow and a member of Penn’s COVID response team, compared the pandemic to the climate crisis: “Things are changing so rapidly, more rapidly than anyone anticipated, and this means that we are forced to make decisions in a climate of imperfect and incomplete information. It makes for a very challenging situation,” she said.

To help shed light on the challenges of COVID-19, Pinto-Martin first asked Weiss, who has been studying coronavirus biology for more than 40 years, to talk about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and how variants of this virus emerge.

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