At the rate that the COVID-19 virus is spreading, the big question in the minds of many is when an actual cure will become available. To date, there is no proven cure to the coronavirus, although proper medical and science personnel are rapidly trying to come up with one.
The key term there is rapid. Time is not on the world’s side and traditionally, it would take time to come up with a safe vaccine and cure to the pandemic. Clinical trials are needed and ideally, this would be done on a small number of subjects to determine potential side effects and immune responses. Going beyond the usual norm could be catastrophic, especially for human life. The usual time frame when an efficient vaccine may come out is at least a year, Science Magazine reported.
With the number of people getting infected by COVID-19 and death rates rising, most are calling for a cure of some kind to come out. The wait could be dramatically trimmed down to 2 to 3 months but will require a carefully designed human challenge trial. This was the take of Stanley Plotkin from the University of Pennsylvania and the inventor of the rubella vaccine.
“People who are faced with a terrifying problem like this one will opt for measures that are unusual. And we have to constantly rethink our biases,” Plotkin said.
There are undoubtedly risks involved if a COVID-19 vaccine is rushed. Human challenges have been done for over two centuries now but there are concerns raised. It remains that careful study designs and extensive reviews are needed.
In the case of the coronavirus, it is something that caught most off guard. Questions remain to this day on how seriously ill people could get, not to mention leaving humans with serious health complications if ever they survive the pandemic. Such a question was raised by Matthew Memoli, an immunologist at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
“Where you’re going to give somebody a virus on purpose, you really want to understand the disease so that you know that what you’re doing is a reasonable risk,” Memoli said.
Despite the worries that the coronavirus has raised on human trials, a vaccine researcher from the University of Maryland believes that clinical trials will pick up the pace. With the number of people getting infected, Myron Levine bats that conventional trials will properly reveal a vaccine’s worth at about the same timeline of human trials.
According to Live Science, 86 clinical trials of COVID-19 treatments or vaccines are either ongoing or recruiting patients as of Mar. 20. Drug testing ranging from repurposed flu treatments to failed ebola drugs or malaria treatments are being done as the world finds itself in a mad race to find a cure for the dreaded pandemic.