‘Dr. P spills the tea:’ Biology department sponsors COVID-19 presentation

Photo by Luna Oppus

Grace Murphy

Staff Writer

Thursday, March 4, at 9 p.m. the Gentile Gallery was packed to COVID-19 capacity with students gathered to listen to the biology department’s informational presentation on coronavirus.

The presentation featured two speakers, Joseph Pathakamuri, who holds a doctorate in molecular virology and is leader of the Franciscan University of Steubenville COVID-19 management team, and William Newton, who holds a doctorate in theology.

Pathakamuri was the first to speak. He began his presentation by providing general information on viruses, their structure and how they infect a host. He then spoke about the unique features of COVID-19 and Franciscan’s management of the virus.

Pathakamuri said, “There is an entire team working at Franciscan University. There (are) case and lab coordinators, there (are) student life coordinators, there is a physical plant coordinator, there (are) academic coordinators.”

Next, Pathakamuri said there are different types of immunity, COVID-19 antibodies and COVID-19 vaccines.

Newton’s presentation focused on the Church’s stance on the morality of the COVID-19 vaccine and whether Catholics have an obligation to take the vaccine.

Newton said, “Yes, one can morally take the vaccine.”

Newton said that while the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were tested on aborted human cell lines, those cell lines were from an abortion performed in 1985. He said that taking the vaccine would mean that people would benefit from a historic evil, but the action of taking the vaccine would not lead to more abortions.

“There are two issues we need to think about here, one is the good of public health, but the other good is reestablishing normal ways of operating society,” said Newton.

Newton said that the vaccine would help society return to normal operation; however, depending on the individual person’s situation, it is not always necessary.

Newton concluded by saying the Catholic Church does not say Catholics have a moral obligation to take the vaccine.

Pathakamari and Newton answered students’ questions after the presentation.

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