Why we need to be patient during the coronavirus pandemic | Opinion Piece
Whilst staying home and working from home, for the past couple of weeks, has been a new experience for me, I’d never imagined there would be a time where we would all be confined to our homes in fear of a virus. However, I know it’s the best thing we could do to protect each other until this coronavirus pandemic is over.
|This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago when I was on my way to work. There were loads of people on the street. I just managed to capture Shepherds Bush at the right time when there were no cars passing by...|
I have been thinking (as we all are thinking) about how this pandemic is happening and how the media is pressurising scientists to create a new wonder-drug or vaccine to cure coronavirus. However, this really isn’t how the scientific process works. There’s a lot more that goes into creating a new drug or vaccine and bringing it to market.
We still need to fully understand that the coronavirus is completely new and we’re still getting to know it’s structure, how it works and whether or not we can gain immunity to it, and how long this immunity lasts.
Secondly, we need to understand that the search for a new drug or vaccine against coronavirus will take an average of twelve to eighteen months and that’s being really optimistic. Scientists are currently testing currently available drugs to see if they’re able to help the patient defeat the coronavirus, but so far, nothing robust has been found.
I’m sure you’ve heard about hydroxychloroquine being used, in some countries to treat the coronavirus. However, this anti-malarial drug has many side effects, one being a risk to the heart. And there’s just not enough data to prove it works against the coronavirus.
Bringing a drug to the market in under two years means you are willing to face unknown risks, due to lack of testing over a significant period of time, and lack of guarantee of efficacy. This is because every new drug must go under rigorous testing before it reaches us. We have to check that it’s safe to give to everyone, it doesn’t have any harmful side effects that can decrease the person's quality of life.
Drugs and Vaccines usually go under two types of testing: in vitro and in vivo studies.
- In vitro study refers to tests that are done in a test tube (i.e. in a glass vessel) rather than in a human or animal.
- In vivo study refers to tests on whole, living organisms or cells, usually animals, including humans, and plants.
- It’s a long process, in a typical timeline, from initial theory to product launch-date, it would take eight to ten years to bring a novel drug to the market. But since we have many approved drugs, scientists will be trying to their efficacy in treating coronavirus. This will be a long process so that we can ensure that the drug or vaccine that reaches us, is as safe as possible.
I’m not saying all of this to make anyone feel hopeless or depressed; I just feel that we need to be patient and give science time to fully understand the novel coronavirus. I’d just like us to all understand that good things take time, including drugs and vaccines. I’m sure we would all prefer a drug and/or a vaccine that has been properly tested and will help the problem than one that creates new problems since it was not tested properly.With all this being said, I am faithful that this pandemic will end soon, we will understand more about coronavirus and this new understanding will help us find a solution to the current pandemic. We just need to be patient, hopeful and stay at home (if possible!).
We may have to wait for an anti-coronavirus drug or vaccine, but it will be worth the wait.