Coronavirus update: Monday 16th March 2020
Clinical trial update
According to a statement made by a US government official, the first dose of an experimental drug will be tested on 45 young and healthy volunteers. The aim of the experiment is not to specifically control the virus itself, but to monitor the side-effects of the medication in patients. The Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle, where the trials are set to begin this week, has issued a disclosure statement that confirms no patients of the trials will contract the virus as a result of participation. This is because the vaccine developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. does not contain any traces of Covid-19.
This news largely comes as a result of a spike in the number of related clinical trials currently underway. It’s reported that China has more than 80 running or pending clinical studies on potential treatments, with Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), stating last week that each of these trials, according to WHO records, are to include approximately 600 people each. Equally, developments in the testing of remdesivir - a compound by Gilead Sciences Inc. - has seen the drug approved on certain circumstances by the FDA for testing on a global scale. The bottom line: research is being conducted at a staggering rate that truly is a testament to human ingenuity.
However, the finish line isn’t quite in sight yet. The UK government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, has gone on record to state that finding a cure to the virus will be more like a marathon than a flat-out sprint: "A vaccine that can be used generally - we'd be very lucky to get one within a year."
The current situation
While research is underway in laboratories across the globe, governments and health organizations agree that we can’t rely on a cure to fight the virus alone. The current situation is that large public venues are being forced to close, with people now being strongly advised to self isolate if any flu-like symptoms persist. In short, the fight against Coronavirus is a communal one; but, unfortunately, not everyone understands this. As retailers across the UK and US warn against panic buying, it is clear that a lack of herd mentality is part of the pandemic problem. The health of humanity relies as much on sensible public conduct as it does on specialized medical research.
So, the takeaway is this: work is being done globally to counter and contain the crisis, but it is up to the individuals - you and me - to safeguard a high standard of hygiene in our local communities. Only by ensuring that the people around us are safe will the result of research like that carried out by the KPWHRI be effective in curing Coronavirus.