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White House ambassador visits Texas A&M, tours COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer

“I was really deeply moved by the administration and students in the belief that we can pull together and ensure that the virus does not pass to one another.”

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Tuesday was a big day for Texas A&M. They welcomed a White House Ambassador to take a little tour of Aggieland.

While Dr. Deborah Birx is not a university student, she set out to get an education. She has toured several universities across the U.S., and her stop in College Station included a tour of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.

“We’re all working towards an effective vaccine. Two components that we’re working on here are subunit vaccines," Dr. Birx said.

Those subunit vaccines are testing and working with different components of COVID-19 to see which one works best to stop it. Once an effective vaccine is available, Dr. Birx says it should go to those most vulnerable first. 

“We obviously want to vaccinate those individuals as fast as we can," she said, "but we need to have a vaccine that is efficacious and safe in that group.”

In the meantime, Dr. Birx credits universities like Texas A&M that are being proactive to slow the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses. 

“I was really deeply moved by the administration and students in the belief that we can pull together and ensure that the virus does not pass to one another,” she said.

Another point of optimism for Dr. Birx and the university was that Texas A&M has the lowest positivity rate of the 20 colleges she has visited. 

From August 29 to September 12, 2020, it lowered from 3.2 percent to 1.6 percent.

“If 18 to 22 year olds can do that, then that shows me we can all do that, she said, “give them the information and empower them to lead. And I think that’s been very inspirational on this trip.”

Dr. Birx also says she hopes universities like A&M will keep certain hygiene habits even after the pandemic is over to protect from other respiratory illnesses like the flu.