• Isha Pendem

COVID-19: Are We Close to a Medical Solution?

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

This 1975 colorized TEM image is of four Avian Infectious Bronchitis Viruses, a virus in the Coronaviridae family. (CDC/Unsplash.com)

Coronavirus was declared a pandemic a couple of weeks ago by the World Health Organization. There are currently 722,088 cases worldwide with 33,976 deaths. Of the active cases, 95% of them are mild and only 5% are serious.

Chinese scientists have argued a discovery about the true nature of the virus and how there are two strains: the virulent and a less virulent strain. If infected by the virulent strain, it is pretty devastating — even young people are getting affected by it. If an old patient gets in contact with the virulent strain there is little chance of survival. Places where people are rapidly dying, like Italy and Seattle, seem to have gotten the virulent strain. The less virulent strain is normal where only those who are already sick get affected. They will recover whether you keep them in the hospital or send them home.

It is also important to look at the recoveries as well. 151,766 people have recovered around the globe with no real cure or vaccination. Even though the vast majority of cases are mild, COVID-19 remains a pressing issue. Political leaders are doing their best to tell the public to stay inside, but in countries like the United States, it isn’t entirely working.

Companies and academic institutions are doing their best to come up with a vaccine or drug as soon as possible. A few of them have already been testing vaccines on animals and Moderna is now moving to human testing.

Since Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, shares 80- 90% of its genetic material with the other coronaviruses that started the SARS and MERS pandemics in 2002 and 2012 respectively, we have a headstart on finding a vaccine. Pair that prior research for a vaccine with information from China on how Sars-CoV-2 works in the body and we are a lot further than we ever thought we would be. However, nothing has been proven successful yet. Clinical trials take a long time but are necessary for a safe vaccine. Many are trying to use the RNA or DNA of the virus which has never yielded an approved vaccine to date.

WHO has stated that there is only one existing drug which might work for COVID-19 called remdesivir which was developed as an Ebola drug. We still await the trial results. Some have also shown interest in chloroquine which was used for malaria. It has shown in laboratory tests that it can kill the virus but we are yet to see the results of it tested on humans.

As cases and deaths surge, it is up to us as well to stop the spreading of COVID-19. Do your best to stay away from people and limit human-to-human contact. Wash your hands frequently and practice basic hygiene. Stay at home and only come out for necessary reasons. Do not forward fake news and pay attention to reliable sources instead of well-known science journals from China or Italy or like the BMJ, Lancet, NEJM, or JAMA. As the doctor from Seattle insists, the goal right now is to “not overwhelm healthcare resources” and to “flatten the curve of the number of cases.” The sooner we all understand our responsibility as humans, the sooner the worst of the pandemic will be over.

Death, recovery, and case count as of March 29, 2020, at 7:47 PM according to Worldometer.