When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the whole world went quiet, the whole job of managing the pandemic was left to the medical doctors and other scientists who were tasked with finding a cure and managing the victims. The only other sector that played an important role was the security sector. In many countries, they helped to enforce the lockdown and dispose of those fatally affected. You can look for resources where you can learn more about the virus to know about their role and your responsibility in the fight against the virus. This article will discuss different ways technology and science has helped so far with the fight against coronavirus.
Treatment of victims
The medical doctors were responsible for testing the public especially those believed to have been exposed to the virus. Those who are positive are subsequently taken to the hospital where they are attended by medical doctors and nurses. They are observed, fed, given medications and those with severe cases were placed on ventilators. Hence, the hospital and medical personnel played a very important role in fighting coronavirus.
The manufacturing sector, which is driven by innovation, technology, research and development also contributed significantly to the fight against the coronavirus. Manufacturing industries produced several items that were needed to manage the situation including ventilators. A lot of products such as special hand sanitizers and face masks are really helping the global population against coronavirus.
Identification of the virus
It was the scientists, using technological products that identified the virus, its properties and what should be done to keep safe. Why many people are still alive today was because the scientists were quick to identify ways to reduce exposure to the virus including washing hands regularly, using hand sanitizers, wearing face masks, and social distancing. These were quickly recommended and swift actions were taken. This has resulted in the percentage of deaths compared to total concluded cases reducing from 21 per cent by the end of March 2020 to less than 5 per cent by the end of August 2020. The measures, coupled with lockdown measures, led to a flattening of the curve.
Medication and treatments
It is the scientists, with the aid of technology that is working towards getting a cure and vaccine for the pandemic. The reason why a vaccine and cure has not been officially discovered, even though there is a vaccine was announced in Russia towards the end of August 2020 will be discussed below.
How long does it take to produce a vaccine?
It is often said that health is wealth for obvious reasons. When you are healthy, you will be strong enough to carry out your daily activities. If, on the other hand, you become ill, it comes with a lot of inconveniences, the inability to work and in some cases, the illness could even be fatal. This is more so when the ailment is not treated.
Fortunately, there are a lot of dangerous diseases today that have been curbed through the invention of a vaccine. When you have taken the vaccine for that disease, you don’t have to be scared of the disease anymore. Even if you get exposed to the bacteria or other factors that cause such diseases, you can be sure that your body will be strong enough to fight them off without you even feeling the symptoms, let alone break down.
However, the world regularly finds itself confronted with new ailments, majorly new strains of influenza viruses among others. There are instances where tests with major medications and vaccines available would not be able to cure the ailment. Depending on how the disease is spared, the rate of spread of the ailment, and how fatal the ailment is, there would be a race to quickly produce a vaccine and treatments for the ailment.
How long does the entire process to create a vaccine take?
Generally, it is believed that the earliest time it can take to make a vaccine is 18 months. This is if everything goes well from the exploratory stage to the Phase III stage. However, this could go as long as 15 to 18 years of continuous trial before a vaccine for some diseases are found.
Outbreak of Covid-19
Currently (First half of the year 2020), the world is battling a pandemic that was able to spread across the world within 3 months of the first reported case. As of the first week of June 2020, the pandemic, which was first reported on 31 December 2019, has infected over 7.1 million people and killed over 400,000 people. For a lot of people, it would have been far-fetched if it had been predicted on 1 December 2019 or even 1 December 2019 that the pandemic would have had such devastating effect and without a solution by the first week of June.
Apart from the cases and the deaths, there were many other effects of the pandemic including economical, political, and social. For perhaps the first time in almost 100 years, people were forced to stay indoors in a lockdown that was enforced by most countries across the world. All major football tournaments stopped including almost all other minor tournaments. Some festivals that had never been skipped for as much as 250 years such as the St Patrick’s Festival in the USA was not held. With all of these effects, it would have been expected that with the cooperation of the world, the pandemic would have been nipped in the bud within a week or two.
By the end of February 2020 when the pandemic had spread to every country of the world, most people woke up each day of March 2020 hoping that a medication or vaccine would have been developed to curb the pandemic or perhaps the pandemic would just disappear. For others, they hoped they would suddenly wake up and find out that it has been a nightmare all along.
By the end of March 2020, however, people started to face the reality that the pandemic is going to be around for a very long time as efforts are made to develop vaccines and cures, while by the end of May 2020, most countries have relaxed the lockdowns and opened up most of their facilities, while giving instructions to reduce the rate of spread. It became obvious that we are going to learn to live with the virus until a vaccine is found. Everybody is, however, now wondering how long it would take for the vaccine or medication for Covid-19 to be produced.
Process of making a vaccine
The process of making a vaccine is one that is very long and complicated. However, it will be discussed in as simple terms as possible. First, there is the exploratory stage where the samples of the virus are obtained and they are tried with different synthetic or natural antigens to find which can treat or prevent the disease. The antigens are majorly weakened bacterial toxins, weakened bacteria or viruses, virus-like particles, and other substances gotten from pathogens.
They would then proceed to a pre-clinical stage where the substance that has shown promise to prevent the disease in the case of a vaccine or treat the disease in the case of a drug is tried out on other animals. The major animals that are used include mice and monkeys because they tend to have similar genetic makeup with humans. Thus, it is expected that if the vaccine is safe for and would work on mice or monkeys, there is a high probability that it would be safe for and work on humans as well.
A lot of vaccines and drugs do not pass this preclinical stage as they are found to be either harmful or not effective. This would require the identification of another antigen and the process would start afresh. If the vaccine passes the preclinical stage, there would be an application to the department in charge of drugs in the country. There would now be a vaccine trial on a few people, majorly less than 100, to see how they would react to the vaccine.
Even if the vaccine is meant for children, they would first be tried out on adults since adults have a stronger immune and body system to withstand any damage than children. If the phase 1 trial is successful, they would move to phase II trials that would require more people, majorly 100s, and then it would move to phase III where thousands or tens of thousands of people will be involved. When the third phase is successful, then the vaccine would become official. The vaccine can now be administered to the public.
There is an optional phase IV phase where continuous tests on the vaccine to ascertain efficacy, safety, and other potential uses will continue.
If the vaccine fails any of the trials, it would be investigated if a tweak could fix whatever issues resulted in the vaccine not producing the desired result. If a tweak is not possible, then they would have to start afresh.
Medications and vaccines for the coronavirus will surely be discovered. It will only be a matter of time and if it will be a one-time vaccine or one that would be taken regularly.