The outbreak of Novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, was first documented in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China on December 2019. This kind of virus causes illness ranging from common colds to severe respiratory diseases. COVID-19 infection can be identified through its common symptoms that are similar to common colds and, at the same time, includes respiratory symptoms. The infected experiences dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, and difficulty in breathing. In severe cases, infection causes pneumonia, kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and death. The COVID-19 virus can be spread through droplets that are produced by the respiratory system of infected individuals, which are expelled from the body during coughing or sneezing. According to the data gathered, time from exposure to the virus until the onset of symptoms is commonly between 2 to 14 days.
The Pandemic, Economy and Livelihood
The entire world has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic non-stop. It was not only the health sector that is suffering from the unprecedented challenge to public health but also the economy and, ultimately, the livelihood of the people. Some big and established companies had to temporarily discontinue production, decrease operations, and others, eventually, closed down. The produce of farmers were also affected by confinement measures and trade restrictions in buying and selling their agricultural products causing the domestic and global supply to be disrupted. Even with the assistance extended by the government, the world is having a hard time coping with the drawbacks entailing the pandemic. Companies that are vulnerable during this uncertain time raises a serious concern on their workforce. According to World Health Organization (WHO), almost half of the 3.3 billion workforce around the globe are at risk of losing their livelihoods. They do not have the means to earn during lockdowns resulting in many workers are unable to feed their families. For a significant number of people in the working sector, no income means no food. The pandemic has decimated jobs and worsened the financial status of families, especially during the lockdown. Many resorted to transferring to affordable homes and finding house and lot for sale for less, to minimize their cost of living.
With the presence of technology, it has been easier to disseminate valuable information about health and safety protocols set by the health authorities. Establishments have been very strict in complying with the guidelines which have been helpful in regulating the masses. Staying at home is highly encouraged. This is advantageous to families having their own house and lot but a challenge to those who live in the slums and other crowded areas. People have practiced social distancing, wearing of masks and other protective gears prescribed by health organizations such as the Department of Health (DOH), among other guidelines. Despite the campaign of carrying on with the daily undertakings as the New Normal, there is still that certain fear of the fact that anybody can be infected by the virus. However, the discipline of the people plays a vital role not only in coping up but with fighting the pandemic as well.
A Glimpse of Hope
Experts in the medical fields have been working on everyone’s hope, the vaccine for COVID-19. The whole world has been conducting extensive studies with the goal of formulating the vaccine as soon as possible. But before it can be released for human use, the drug needs to undergo phases of clinical trials where its safety and effectivity will be tested. The clinical trial has the following Phases:
- Phase 0 - This trial is done by giving the drug to about 10 to 15 people with the aim of learning how it is processed by the human body and its effects.
- Phase I – This phase aims to determine the best dose of a new drug with the fewest side effects among 15 to 30 people. Therefore, it is done to test a drug’s safety. If a drug is found to be safe enough, it can proceed to the phase II clinical trial.
- Phase II – The goal of this phase is to see if the drug actually works, oftentimes tested with a new combination of drugs.
- Phase III - The comparison between a new drug to the standard-of-care drug is made. It assesses the side effects of each drug and which among them works better.
- Phase IV - After the drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is tested on several hundreds or thousands of patients, allowing better research on short-lived and long-lasting side effects and safety.
Hope in a Bottle
As per update of WHO, the following
vaccine candidates are the three most promising among the 970 COVID-19 drugs
and vaccines in development targeting the virus currently under clinical trial.
COVID-19 vaccine (BNT162b2) –
This vaccine from Pfizer, BioNTech, and Fosun Pharma is currently in phase III
in the clinical trial. It has been authorized by FDA for emergency use to
prevent COVID-19 for individuals 16 years old and above. Most common side effects
reported, which typically lasted several days, were pain at the injection site,
headache, tiredness, muscle pain, joint pain chills, and fever.
- Moderna – An mRNA type currently on Phase III clinical trial and under the FDA review. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet in an open session on December 17, 2020, to discuss Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Moderna Inc. COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 on individuals 18 years and older.
- CanSino – The
drug developed by CanSinoBIO in China is also currently on Phase III clinical
trial for a recombinant vaccine for COVID-19 (Ad5-nCOV) which was developed in
Mexico. They developed the drug using a widespread and largely harmless virus
called adenovirus 5 (Ad5), into which they stitched a gene for the surface
protein of Covid-19.
While the World Waits
These are only the leading few among the promising candidates that bring hopes to end the pandemic. Vaccines are targeted to be released to the public in early 2021. It is still a long wait given the urgency of the issue. Therefore, everyone retains the obligation to be careful, vigilant, and to follow safety protocols. When going outside, make sure to wear what is prescribed, stay away from crowded places, avoid going out because of unnecessary reasons, and make sure to always sanitize. Staying at home is one of the best way to limit the chances of acquiring the virus. Making homes a safe space for the family will help in controlling the risk. Most importantly, make sure to be health conscious not only physically but also mentally. There is now a light at the end of the tunnel, and hopefully, it is near.