How we're responding to COVID-19 >

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How we're responding to COVID-19

MIU has been extremely proactive in addressing the Coronavirus threat. All new students, as well as returning students, enrolled in our Fall on-campus programs were tested upon arrival and then again a week afterward. Subsequent tests have been conducted during the semester for students who have reported symptoms, with any positive cases quickly isolated in special housing. We have a testing lab on campus that enables quick turnaround on all samples.

We are pleased to report that MIU has remained open, and our students are now enjoying the option of in-classroom learning as well as the ability to connect to the classroom from the comfort of their dormitory room via live, 2-way video conferencing. (Note: Certain international programs may have more specific in-classroom attendance requirements.)

Numerous other campus-wide precautionary actions have been taken to protect our campus and the broader community.

We continue to observe all government regulations and CDC recommendations, social distancing, and all other precautions that are deemed necessary and advisable, and require compliance by all of our students, staff, and faculty.

We continue to strive to provide the richest, fullest, and safest on-campus college experience possible. With the continued cooperation of all members of our University community, we are confident that we can maintain our exceptional record.

In the meantime… our onsite Visitors Weekends have been postponed. We are instead hosting One-on-One Virtual Visits with professors, students, and more, and online webinars featuring our most popular Visitors Weekend speakers.

Please direct any questions to our Admissions Counselors.


MIU’s President John Hagelin and integrative medical faculty share their thoughts with students and faculty

Dear MIU Community,

Many students, faculty, and staff have approached me and our integrative medical faculty for our opinions on the Coronavirus-19 vaccines and have asked whether the University could provide some helpful guidance.

It is not MIU’s role to provide medical advice to our students and faculty – this is the role of one’s licensed medical professional or physician, and we hope all of you will seek that advice to assist you in your decision.

However, as many of our students, especially international students, may not have a local doctor, and also because MIU has considerable knowledge in its integrative medical faculty in modern medicine, AyurVedic medicine and integrative health, we felt it would be irresponsible not to provide you what we believe may be useful information to assist you and your health professional in making your personal decision regarding the COVID vaccines.

Hence, we have been engaged in the study of the available vaccines and, to a lesser degree, those that are soon to be released. We have examined the known benefits, and the known and potential risks.

And naturally, because we are MIU, with the largest AyurVeda and Integrative Medicine program in the United States, we have spent at least as much time studying natural and complementary approaches that can strengthen the immune system and potentially prevent infection or reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. There is a broad range of such preventive and natural measures, and we will send you a subsequent report with detailed recommendations soon.

Right now, the subject of vaccines has become very timely. Especially the #1 question on the minds of many: whether or not to take the vaccine.

We have gathered extensive empirical data on risks vs. benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines, weighed various theoretical considerations based on virology and molecular biology, and considered widely ranging opinions put forth by various sides. This has been, and continues to be, an engaging journey.

To keep this letter as brief as possible, we, the scientific and medical professionals at MIU (both modern medical and AyurVedic), will focus on the main conclusions of our collective thought and research:

  1. The novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is truly a once-in-a-century pandemic and a serious health risk — especially in light of what is forecast for the next few months.
  2. The perils of COVID-19 are well documented. Roughly 20% of people who come down with COVID-19 symptoms develop serious, potentially life-threatening illness. People who are older, obese, or have other health problems are at highest risk for complications from COVID-19.
  3. But younger people can become severely ill too. In a study of more than 3,000 people aged 18–34 who were hospitalized for COVID-19, 20% (600) required intensive care and 3% died.
  4. The long-term health complications associated with COVID-19 are another serious concern. As many as one in three people who recover from COVID-19 have chronic complaints for months afterward, including exhaustion, a racing heart, blood clots, and loss of sense of smell or taste.
  5.  The risk of contracting COVID-19 is high. And it’s expected to grow higher with the arrival of more contagious COVID variants. At the current rate, an estimated 1 out of 7 Americans will have contracted COVID-19 by the end of June; 1 out of 50 Americans will have experienced COVID-19 symptoms; and (according to point 2, above) 1/250 Americans will develop “serious, potentially life-threatening symptoms.”

    (These projections could be off by as much as 25%-40%, but are sufficient for our purposes. They do not include any acceleration due to the new, more infectious COVID strains. Nor do they include the potential positive impact of a more rapid vaccine distribution strategy. These two significant factors will weigh off against each other.)

  6. Without an effective vaccine, it will be difficult to extinguish this COVID brush fire.
  7. Vaccines – the known benefits. Setting aside potential side effects and risks for the moment, the protections provided by the currently approved vaccines are substantial: 90-95% immunity from the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines and (approximately) 65%-70% protection from the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, which can be produced quickly and cheaply on a global scale. Even the J&J vaccine offers strong protection against having a severe case of COVID-19 that would lead to hospitalization or death.

    Large studies show that taking any of these three vaccines prevents most of the serious COVID-19 risks for those who get them. In addition, evidence is now beginning to support what the science of virology already strongly suggests: that taking a vaccine will also help to protect against exposing those around you (your fellow students, professors, and staff).

  8. Vaccines – the known risks. There are known risks from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, as with any vaccine. Those risks are being closely monitored and intensively scrutinized by medical professionals as these vaccines get rolled out nationwide (as they had been previously scrutinized during their initial development and vetting process).

    The Moderna vaccine is the one currently most available in Fairfield and other rural areas, where the requirement of ultra-deep refrigeration has made the Pfizer vaccine less practical. The Moderna vaccine’s safety record appears very good. Only 0.03% (3 out of 10,000) in the US have had reactions deemed worthy of reporting (reactions other than soreness or rash at the injection site). More important, serious adverse reactions (i.e., anaphylaxis) from Moderna is (approx) 2.4 per million among healthy subjects.* That number rises to (approx) 6 per million for the Pfizer vaccine, which is still very low.

    (*Reports of higher incidence of illness or mortality have occurred among patients in residence at nursing homes, and it is being hotly debated whether those mortalities represent a significant increase compared to typical mortality rates in those same institutions.)

    Vaccine recipients are requested to remain under the observation of the administering personnel for 15-30 minutes, so that they can be easily treated should such an allergic reaction occur. Most of these reactions were in subjects who had previous strong reactions to vaccines or medications. For this reason, patients with a known history of strong allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, to vaccines or other substances (e.g., penicillin) are not advised to take the vaccine.
    It should be noted that neither the Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines contain adjuvants or preservatives such as thimerasol or aluminum, which have been the subject of debate in many other vaccines.

  9. A comparison of risks. From publicly available estimates of COVID-19 morbidity summarized above, the risk of an American falling significantly, seriously, or dangerously ill from COVID-19 by this summer is roughly 0.4% (or 1/250).

    Moderna vaccine — The risk of falling significantly, seriously, or dangerously ill from taking this vaccine is 0.00024%, or 1/400,000. In other words, the known risk of experiencing serious illness from COVID-19 is nearly 2,000 times greater than the known risk of a serious reaction to the Moderna vaccine.

    Pfizer vaccine — The risk of a serious reaction to this vaccine is somewhat higher at 0.001%, or 1/100,000. Even so, in terms of serious illness or reaction, taking the Pfizer vaccine is roughly 500 times safer than the risks from COVID-19.

Do these vaccines pose other, less well-known, potentially subtle or hidden risks?

It’s certainly possible. First, we should note that these vaccines have not been certified as safe or long-term effective by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The COVID vaccines have been approved for use under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that was put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It allows vaccines to be implemented based on short-term clinical trials, in which safety has been assessed for a 2-3 month period. There is, as yet, no evidence regarding the medium- and long-term safety or efficacy of the vaccines.

In addition, the Covid vaccines available today, and indeed most of those under development, involve genetic technologies, and the genetic technologies employed by the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are novel.

We, the authors of this report, have been very vocal about the hazards of genetic engineering of plants or animal species — most especially when it comes to the human genome. However, the COVID-19 vaccines are not “genetic engineering” in that sense — they do not involve any modification or manipulation of our genes or DNA. And as a consequence, they do not present any obvious genetic danger. That said, all medicines have potential side effects, and therefore require a proper balancing of their advantages and disadvantages, which you must each undertake for yourselves.

But today, we are addressing a danger of an entirely different magnitude.
We are not only facing a once in a 100-year pandemic, but we are in a race to outpace a proliferation of new, more contagious virus strains.

It’s going to take all our wits, all our science, and all our collective good fortune to win this race. And it is our view that these vaccines are the most potent weapon we have against the spread of COVID-19.

They are not entirely without risks, and they are contraindicated for certain patients. So we urge you, as always, to consider their appropriateness with your medical professional.

Please Note: Even an aggressive rollout of vaccines will not, in the near term, reduce the crucial importance of masks, social distancing, common-sense safety protocols, and effective preventive medicine — both modern and AyurVedic. Our forthcoming announcement will explain some of the more effective, evidence-based preventive approaches in detail, together with recommendations.

With our best wishes for your health, safety, and happiness,
John Hagelin, President
Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, Dean of the College of Integrative Medicine, Professor of Physiology and Health
John Fagan, PhD, Professor of Microbiology
James Davis, DO, Medical Director, Integrative Wellness Center; Clinical Professor of Physiology and Health
Keith Wallace, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology and Health
Abraham Bornstein, MD, Adjunct Professor of Integrative Medicine; Fellow of the American College of Cardiology
Manohar Palakurthi, BAMS, Clinical Professor of Physiology and Health
Komal Marwaha, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Physiology and Health
Michael Olmstead, DSS, Assistant Professor of Physiology and Health
Amandeep K. Negi, BAMS, MHA, Assistant Professor of Physiology and Health
Vaidya Ruchi Sharma, BAMS, Instructor of Physiology and Health
Vina Miller, BS, RN, Campus Nurse

Here are the steps we have taken so far in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They all aim at minimizing contact with anyone who may have been exposed to the virus and preventing the introduction of COVID-19 into our community.

We are constantly monitoring the situation and will relax these policies when it is safe to do so.

  • Travel restriction – We have implemented a campus-wide travel ban outside of Jefferson County for all students and employees.
  • Testing – Employees in sensitive areas are having their temperatures taken every day before they start work. Anyone with a fever or other symptoms of illness is sent home immediately. All who test positive for COVD-19 are immediately isolated and follow all CDC guidelines. No one can return to work without 14 days in isolation followed by a negative COVID test result.
  • Testing – Students are tested upon arrival and approximately one week afterward and remain in isolation until a second negative test result is returned.
  • Masks – We have distributed masks to all students. All students, faculty, and staff are required to wear masks in the Argiro Student Center and in all campus buildings, as well as when walking outside with others. Employees in sensitive areas are required to wear masks throughout their work period. More information about masks
  •  Online teaching – All campus classes are offered on a hybrid basis. We recommend students attend at least two classes per week in class, the balance in dormitory rooms through live, 2-way video interaction.
  • On-campus dining – We have taken a number of steps to keep diners safe:
    • restricted access to our dining hall to MIU students, faculty, and staff only (no outside guests)
    • installed a battery of sinks outside the entrance to the dining building and engaged a security guard, requiring all to scrub their hands before entering the building
    • required all diners to sanitize their hands using hand sanitizers stationed outside the dining hall entrance
    • added professional food servers (all of whom wear masks) so that diners do not touch serving utensils
    • screened off the food in the serving lines so that only the servers have access to it
    • opened up additional dining rooms to allow — and enforce — appropriate social distancing
    • staggered our lunch shifts for the same reason
    • spaced table seats at appropriate distances
    • added an outside dining option under shade tents and at the Olsen Amphitheater
  • Food shopping – To help people stay on campus, we have created a system in which students can itemize snacks and other food items they need from Walmart, and we pick up those items and sell them in the Café in the Argiro Student Center.
  • Library access The library is closed for studying and browsing but MIU students, faculty, and staff can check out books by ordering them via email and then pick them up at the window inside the east entrance between 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm Monday – Friday. For more information, please see library.miu.edu.
  • Recreation Center closed —  To help compensate for this loss, a “Virtual Rec Center” has been developed with online fitness sessions, dance classes, yoga, and more, encouraging everyone to stay fit.
  • Campus events — We have canceled all on-campus gatherings and events.
  • Online student activities — Our Student Activities team has created an array of online activities for students, including exercise classes and a virtual art competition.
  • Doing business remotely — We have encouraged students and everyone else to conduct business remotely wherever possible by phone or email, including communications with Financial Aid, the Enrollment Center, Student Life, local banks, etc.
  • Social distance — We are continuously reminding everyone to follow the recommended social distance guidelines of at least six feet from others both indoors and out, both on-campus and off-campus, and to avoid mingling in groups.
  • Self-care education — We are educating the community in common-sense measures of self-care. These include getting plenty of sleep and meditating regularly to keep the immune system strong, washing hands often with soap and water, no handshaking or hugs, etc.
  • Staying home if unwell — We are requiring people to stay home if they are not feeling well and to remain there for at least three days after all symptoms are gone.
  • Food delivery — We have created a system for delivering food to people who are not feeling well.
  • Isolation and quarantine facilities — We have set up and equipped four residential facilities to serve as quarantine stations for those who are sick or who might possibly have been exposed to the coronavirus.
  • Auxiliary facilities — We are prepared to serve the community if necessary by creating auxiliary hospital facilities and beds for any citizens of Jefferson County in case the Jefferson County Health Center becomes overwhelmed.
  • Visiting Fairfield — We have communicated with friends of the university around the country and asked them not to visit Fairfield at this time. We are also asking Fairfield residents to avoid coming onto campus.
  • Maharishi School is upholding similar policies and has implemented Remote Learning for all students.

We are updating our policies as appropriate and/or as required by the authorities. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, please write to us at virusinfo@miu.edu.

I am proud of the tireless, dedicated work of our faculty and administrators and community leaders over these past few months, and the spirit of concern and cooperation displayed by everyone in our campus community.

John Hagelin, President
Maharishi International University
President@MIU.edu