COVID-19: A Glimpse of Crisis and Rays of Hope
Coronavirus (COVID-19), an infectious disease, the pandemic is now the crucial issue of health emergency all over the world. Till September 9, 2020, 902,768 people have died from the disease and 27,784,736 infections have been recorded. The number of people who have actually had the virus is thought to be much higher due to inadequate testing and asymptomatic nature of cases.
Very few states are being able to respond and prevent the massive transmission to the community level. It has travelled all over the world since it was first traced in Wuhan City of China in December 2019. Experts shared that the virus has the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 which leads to severe pneumonia in some cases and also ruptures any long-term disease that an infected person has been living with. In the past decade, many new coronaviruses have been identified throughout the world. These viruses belong to the family Coronaviridae, one of the three families in the order Nidovirales. They are the largest known RNA viruses with 27–31 kb genomes. Like influenza or flu, the coronaviruses that have similar epidemic properties, they are single-stranded RNA viruses with a lipoprotein envelope and do not require any other viral surface proteins for fusion. The COVID-19 also is a single-stranded RNA virus.
Rays of Hope
Attempts are ongoing for the development of a vaccine or particular medication. According to the ‘natureresearch’ journal as of April 2020, the global COVID-19 vaccine R&D landscape included 115 vaccine candidates, of which 78 are confirmed as active and 37 were in development status. Out of the 78 confirmed active projects, 73 were at exploratory or preclinical stages.
On August 11, 2020, Russia declared that they have become the first in the world to approve a vaccine against coronavirus. The vaccine is named ‘Sputnik V’. The vaccine would be given in two shots, 21 days apart. The shots contain modified adenoviruses, which would typically cause a common cold. Both have been given the gene for the spike protein from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Russian Ministry of Health issued a registration certificate to it but the certificate also specifies that the vaccine cannot be used widely until next year i.e. 2021. It needs to complete larger clinical trials. The vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow. It was tested in just 76 people. Scientist around the world as well as in Russia considered it as a rush to win the race of discovery and called it premature.
Testing of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University began in the UK in April with over 1,000 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55. Another round with 10,000 volunteers began in May. Now this vaccine is in third phase clinical trial.
America is also working swiftly to discover the vaccine. Out of the total number of vaccine candidates, 46% are from North America, 18% China, 18% of Asia excluding China, and 18% in Australia and Europe.
China has nine vaccine candidates in clinical trials, including three in phase III which is the final stage of the process toward approval. Out of the 29 new vaccines in clinical trials around the world, nine are from China.
Likewise, India’s top health agencies reported that the country should have a coronavirus vaccine ready by August. According to the director of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 12 hospitals were ordered to begin clinical trials of India’s coronavirus candidate vaccine, Covaxin, with the goal of having it ready for public use by August 15. Experts then warned India that the short timeline is both unrealistic and dangerous
The World Health Organization came forward with the modality of COVAX which will be developed and shared among the nations worldwide. COVAX is a groundbreaking collaboration of many countries in the world to accelerate the development, production and access to COVID19 vaccines. In mid-July, 75 countries had come forward to finance the COVAX from their own public finance budgets and partnerships with up to 90 lower-income countries that could be supported through voluntary donations. Together, this group of up to 165 countries represents more than 60% of the world’s population.
Vaccines that will be developed against corona must pass three-phase tests before they can be used widely. The phase I trial involves a small number of volunteers, who will be given the dose and this is intended to determine a safe dose. Then in phase II, more number of people are required because it tests whether the vaccine triggers an immune response or not, and also looks more carefully for side effects. Finally, in phase III trial it is used in a large group of people to find out whether the vaccine actually protects them against the infection or not. This isn’t just a formality: a vaccine might trigger an immune response in phase II itself, but this may not be enough to confer real immunity in phase III. Therefore, the development and advanced of the vaccine is supposed to take a sufficient amount of time.
A few months ago, the human civilization was unaware of the ways from which they could save themselves from the disease but now, many countries have come forward with their discoveries which in near future might defeat the virus. This is because of the advancement of biotechnology. Many countries have come together to collaborate their ideas for protecting mankind. Global efforts have been made to control the health crisis. Therefore, we have hopes of a better and safer future.
Human intelligence and the development of science is being challenged. The developed states are also facing a critical situation. The model of the global economy and world system is in its critical trial. States apparatus is being less functional. The leaders of the power states are also showing their worries about such a crisis. If the status quo continued without any development in treatment and control of the virus, the rights of people will be massively violated. The poverty, hunger, joblessness, psychosocial disorder and conflict in societies and states can be the possible future of humankind if the solution doesn’t occur soon. Globally practised lockdown for breaking the cycle of infection can be the short term mitigation strategy. People cannot always be locked into their homes. There is a hope of blue sky and shining stars in the efforts of medical scientists contributing to the development of COVID-19 treatment.
The development of a vaccine for COVID-19 treatment should be accepted as the shared future of humankind. The risk of control of the market over the innovation has threatened the rights of poor and marginalized people and states. Shared prosperity, protected and dignified life of humankind, protected planet for present and future, partnership and peaceful collaboration are the fundamental elements adopted by the states through the sustainable development goals. Every nation in the world has to come forward with harmony to protect human civilization.
Reference: International News Agencies
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