Since the COVID-19 crisis was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, it has claimed the lives of more than 958,000 people worldwide. The disease was caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2).
Across the globe, researchers, public health experts and clinicians have dedicated their energy, time and expertise to the coronavirus pandemic in an effort to rid society of this disease and restore a sense of normalcy from the warped times we now live in.
In the past 7 months, scientists have discovered and learnt a lot about the virus and the disease it causes. Despite the lack of licensed coronavirus vaccines at the moment, there are currently 145 potential vaccines in preclinical development and another 35 coronavirus vaccines in clinical development. Additionally, 46 possible therapeutics are being handled in various clinical trials. This is remarkable progress, especially for a disease that had not existed prior to January.
These are taxing times, with researchers working day and night to identify and distinguish SARS-CoV-2 as well as find out the underlying cause of the clinical ailment. The reality is that it might take a long time before things go back to normal. At this point in time though, the information researchers find out will assist in further public health and clinical research into the coronavirus crisis.
Researchers are still in the early stages of understanding both COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2. A lot of useful information has come to light though, such as the realization that the coronavirus can cause lung damage, which may result in pneumonia or in critical cases, lung failure. Now comes the complicated part, designing research studies using lung cells to test treatments. It sounds so straightforward but it is not as there are very many things to be considered, such as the type of lung epithelial cells that should be used or whether the researchers should use immortalized cells or normal cells?
In addition to this, infectious viruses are best worked on in a containment lab. In the SARS-CoV-2 case, a containment level 3 lab is used. This slows down the whole research process as working in a high containment lab means increased procedures for disinfection and cleaning and increased time because extra precautions have to be taken when handling infected matter. Furthermore, additional protective protocols and measures are put in place within the lab to always ensure safety of individuals by limiting potential exposures.
However, despite the lack of vaccines or cure for COVID-19, we should all acknowledge the great strides that have been made by researchers as well as the sacrifices that frontline workers have made. More information will come to light on the disease and we are hopeful that we shall overcome COVID-19 and also be better prepared for any future pandemics. Experts say that is the same hope that biomedical companies like DarioHealth Corp. (NASDAQ: DRIO) have.
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