Four months into 2020 and the world is still battling the threat of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
In late January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a “Public Health of International Concern.” Since then, the number of cases has continued to rise and now numbers in the millions.
Despite the severity of the symptoms and the disease’s aggressiveness, data has shown that there have been more recoveries than deaths.
And there is hope, as more countries are initiating efforts in exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic, by the numbers
As of April 2020, there has been an estimated 600,000 recovered cases and 161,000 deaths worldwide.
There is still a significant difference between recoveries and deaths, which is why the scientific and medical communities are urgently exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19.
Scientists and medical professionals are fast-tracking cures and vaccines for the disease, though none have succeeded yet.
What happens if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19?
Confining a patient in a hospital for COVID-19 usually entails simply treating and alleviating the symptoms brought about by the disease.
Pain relievers, cough medication, rest, and fluid intake are the most common treatments recommended to help a patient recover from COVID-19.
In some countries, especially for those reaching the maximum capacities of their healthcare systems, people who only have mild symptoms are encouraged to stay at home and treat their symptoms while under self-quarantine.
Surprisingly, some COVID-19 patients have recovered without going to the hospital. According to reports, they had treated the illness with the same approaches as addressing a common cold or flu.
What is COVID-19?
This is not the first time that the world has encountered the coronavirus. Many different types of coronaviruses exist in animals like camels, pigs, cats, and bats. When this is transmitted to humans, it is called a “spillover event.” Spillover events are responsible for many of the major disease outbreaks that we have experienced so far.
Coronaviruses are responsible for mild illnesses like the common cold, to the more severe respiratory conditions like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs), which have both caused public health emergencies in the past.
COVID-19 was referred to as the “2019 Novel Coronavirus” or “nCov” in its initial days. However, the WHO changed it later, giving separate names for the disease and the virus. The condition is now officially referred to as “COVID-19” or the coronavirus disease.
COVID-19 is the latest type of coronavirus to plague countries, and is believed to have evolved from an animal source in the Hubei province of Wuhan City in China.
Exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19: New possible treatments
Presently, research is being conducted to find the vaccine for the disease, as well as efforts in exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19.
Patients are usually treated through supportive measures that help minimize some of the symptoms brought about by the disease. However, seeking wisdom from previous outbreaks like SARS and the Ebola virus, hospitals have also attempted to treat COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma.
Convalescent plasma therapy
This approach entails transferring the plasma of a recovered COVID-19 patient to one who is still fighting the disease. This kind of passive immunization has been done for many other diseases, and is proving to be an effective treatment for COVID-19.
Several countries are now exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19 using this method. Although it is not exactly a cure, the WHO stated in its recently published technical guidance document that convalescent plasma therapy can be used by hospitals to treat their cases.
Recently, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine were able to test a potential vaccine called “PittCoVacc” on mice. The vaccine is designed to come in the form of a “microneedle array,” which is a fingertip-sized patch containing 400 needles designed to insert proteins into the skin. These will hopefully neutralize the virus causing COVID-19. The patch goes on the finger like a band-aid, and totally dissolves into the skin.
The test done on the mice showed that the PittCoVacc was able to encourage the production of antibodies against COVID-19 in just two weeks. Researchers are using this and are exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19. Human trials may take a few months, but it is positive step in the right direction.
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
Different countries and their respective medical and scientific communities are exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19. These trials range from vaccines to cures to other treatments that aim to alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
Patients who are diagnosed with COVID-19 typically experience following symptoms:
- Dry cough
However, in some instances, patients also experience:
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
In most cases, these symptoms develop gradually and improve within a few weeks. For groups who are at higher risk of the disease, like the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, these symptoms may potentially develop into more serious conditions like pulmonary fibrosis and pneumonia.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, and are concerned about whether or not you have contracted COVID-19, it is important to note that the virus can be transmitted via respiratory droplets. This means a person can easily spread the virus if they cough, sneeze, or speak.
It is advised that individuals be proactive and vigilant in protecting themselves against the virus. Those who are asymptomatic can also spread the disease.
Another means to contract COVID-19 is by touching surfaces that are contaminated and infecting yourself by touching your face, mouth, nose and eyes. This is why social distancing measures, and the emphasis of handwashing is reinforced by health professionals.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Since the world’s scientists and medical experts are still exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones is by being extremely careful and to strictly following the recommended guidelines or protocols established by your state government.
Here are a few simple ways you can protect yourself against COVID-19:
- Regularly sanitize your hands with an alcohol-based rub. Better yet, wash your hands with soap and water. Soap is known to be deadly to all sorts of diseases, including COVID-19. Make sure to wash your hands, especially if you have gone outside for errands.
- Avoid touching high-risk surfaces like doorknobs, your cellphone, and light switches. Disinfect these regularly.
- Maintain social distancing, or staying at least six feet from people who are coughing and sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you are outside or in a public place. The virus can enter your body through those three openings.
- Follow good respiratory hygiene by covering your nose and mouth with a face mask
- Sneeze and cough into the crook of your elbow to prevent the spread of disease.
- Stay home as much as you can, especially if you are feeling unwell. If you are starting to develop symptoms and have been to areas with confirmed cases of local community transmission, or if you have travelled from a country with a confirmed outbreak in the last 14 days, contact your physician. If you suspect that you have COVID-19 and will be heading out to a hospital or clinic, always contact the hospital and your physician beforehand.
COVID-19 has drastically changed the lives of millions, and has put the world in a public health crisis, place many lives and livelihoods in jeopardy.
Thankfully, many medical experts, researchers and scientists are racing to find a cure and a vaccine to stop this pandemic.
There is still hope, as efforts in exploring current clinical trials for COVID-19 are underway. But until a vaccine or cure is found, it is best that stay home and follow the protocols shared by the WHO and your local government.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.