Prominent virologist Dr. Oveta Fuller, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, died unexpectedly this month at the age of 67. No cause of death has been provided, other than reports that she died “following a brief illness unrelated to COVID.”
Fuller, who was a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, is perhaps best known for her role in greenlighting the COVID-19 injections by voting for their Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
“Her vote is one of the reasons we have COVID vaccines today,” said Detroit NBC affiliate WDIV, calling Fuller a “fierce advocate for science” who was “all about information.”
Notably, the virologist was only one of four who initially voted “no” on the EUA in 2020, which she explained as “no, not yet.” But by 2021, Fuller was fully on board with the shots, even suggesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates in schools.
“From pandemic to endemic SARS CoV-2 will require wise decisions by leaders and each person,” Fuller tweeted in July 2021. “Required vaccines have stopped or reduced many illnesses - polio, measles, mumps, pertussis, chickenpox, smallpox, influenza... We must add COVID-19 to the list.”
In November 2021, Fuller voted “Yes” on authorizing the COVID-19 shots for children ages 5-11.
“Based on the data that was presented for the clinical trials with 5- to 11-year-olds, as well as the rollout effects of the Pfizer vaccine over the last 10 months in millions of people, the benefits seem to far outweigh the risk,” Fuller told The Michigan Daily. “So I voted yes, to make that available as something that parents who choose to have their children vaccinated can do. My opinion was not so much to make it mandatory but to make it accessible.”
Then, in July 2022, Fuller voted to authorize the COVID-19 injections for children as young as six months old, again claiming the benefits outweighed the risks.
“The benefits seem to clearly outweigh the risks, particularly for those with young children who may be in kindergarten or in collective child care,” she said.
Fuller also urged pregnant and nursing women to take the shots.
“As pregnancy naturally brings a temporary type of immunosuppressive, vaccination against COVID and booster are love and wisdom in action for mothers, a mother to be and the people around them,” tweeted Fuller in November 2021.