Friday, December 11, 2020

How have scientists developed COVID-19 vaccines so quickly?

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration review panel has recommended emergency authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer, paving the way for FDA authorization within days. In this video, Patricia Winokur, executive dean of the Carver College of Medicine and the principal investigator of the University of Iowa Pfizer clinical trial, explains how two decades of foundational work by scientists studying other coronaviruses and mRNA vaccines helped expedite the development of a vaccine that meets the highest standards of safety.

Campus operations

The university continues to work with local and state officials to support and implement policies to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation extending an earlier order prohibiting gatherings of more than 15 people indoors and 30 or more outdoors through Dec. 16 and requiring people to wear a mask when they are in an indoor public space and are unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer through Jan. 8.

The governor’s order aligns with the UI’s existing face mask requirement. As a reminder, everyone entering a university building is expected to follow CDC recommendations to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Unless otherwise indicated, you must wear a face mask (cloth mask, disposable mask, or face shield with mask) when on campus unless you are alone in a private office/space or are in your residence hall room.

The university will continue to align with guidance from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa; the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH); and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

University of Iowa self-reported COVID-19 testing

These data reflect new cases since Dec. 9, 2020.

The University of Iowa has published an updated snapshot of self-reported positive COVID-19 tests from faculty, staff, and students.

Number of self-reported cases of COVID-19


  • New cases: 16
  • Semester-to-date: 2,782


  • New cases: 3
  • Semester-to-date: 312

These numbers reflect only self-reported positive or presumed positive COVID-19 tests from UI faculty, staff, and students on the academic campus since Aug. 18, 2020. These data will not match data reported by UI Hospitals & Clinics or by the Iowa Department of Public Health for several reasons, including different testing time intervals and geographic scope. Students who also are employees of the university are only reported in the student number to avoid double counting. The UI has more than 30,000 students and nearly 30,000 employees. Many employees continue to work remotely but have self-reported to authorize sick leave.

Number of residence hall students in quarantine: 0*

Number of residence hall students in self-isolation: 1**

*Quarantine: Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others.

**Self-isolation: Isolation is used to separate people infected with the virus (those who are symptomatic and those with no symptoms) from people who are not infected.