COVID-19 Vaccine and Antiviral Improvements

By: Reha Matai & Srusti Acharya

With over 5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide, many scientists and those in health careers are pushing with efforts to create treatments and develop vaccines in order to reduce the damage of this disease. Scientists have looked at 3 stages of infection where the virus could possibly be targeted: preventing the virus from entering our cells, keeping it from replicating in cells, and minimizing the damage the virus does to our organs and the rest of our body. Dr. Robert Almer argues that antivirals work more efficiently if administered sooner, “before the virus has a chance to multiply significantly.” Looking at reports, antivirals are more likely to be developed and then approved sooner than a vaccine, which is why many labs are working on this. Recently, in mid-May, a Biotech company called Sorrento Therapeutics spread the word that they have an antibody-drug that could effectively block the virus that causes COVID-19 and essentially prevent further infection. Drugs such as these are continuously being tested in clinical trials to determine whether they are effective, safe, and give the correct dosage. Looking at this, it could take months or perhaps even longer for treatments to be available. Although, there are tools based on technology that can be used to lessen the damage done by the coronavirus. “Even though technological advances allow us to do certain things more quickly,” Lee told Healthline, “we still have to rely on social distancing, contact tracing, self-isolation, and other measures.” 

 Further proceeding with research, Stanford University has made progress towards creating a vaccine. Reports from Mid-April speak about the testing of a drug called Remdesivir, commonly known as the ebola drug. As explained by Aruna Subramanian, MD, clinical professor of infectious disease and principal investigator of the Gilead trials at Stanford, “the virus makes copies of itself by inserting its own genes into the human cell’s genetic machinery, basically hijacking the replication process of the human cell. Remdesivir, like other anti-virals, is designed to target the system the virus uses to replicate, acting as a cap that prevents the virus from making new copies of itself or infecting other cells.” However, as of right now, Remdesivir is only being used in hospital emergencies involving COVID. 

As shown on ABC News, in the article “Coronavirus: Stanford leads clinical trial for possible COVID-19 treatment,” there is also a possible development of a form of interferon, which is used against viruses causing forms of hepatitis. The university suggests that the vaccine would be given similar to a shot and would remain present in the body for up to a week to withstand the effects of the virus. 

However, most interestingly as of May 20th 2020, Stanford biochemist Rhiju Das, Ph.D., opens the ground to possible solutions through reforming a game called Eterna to create her OpenVaccine Project. By doing so, Das has opened the ground to millions of people who without scientific experience can play the video-simulated game to provide insight. It encourages the most unlikely of peoples to participate in this technologically-driven world.As Das made an attempt to unite our society in such unprecedented, and frankly tedious times, it is important to remember the value of our lives and simply how much it matters that we all stand together by staying separate. Although the irony is quite prevalent, here at Quarry Lane we have succeeded before in maintaining such policies and we will continue to, setting an example for others who seem to stray from the rules. With that said, remember to stay at distance from others and frequently wash your hands. Science will continue to proceed for the purpose of humanity no matter the circumstances, however, research takes time and that is what we need to buy as a community at QLS for the rest of our world. Stay safe!

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