The COVID-19 caused by the novel coronavirus has been rapidly spreading across the world, claiming thousands of lives. Yet, no specific antiviral drug or vaccine is currently available due to the novelty of the virus now called the SARS-CoV-2. Raising hopes of a cure for the dreaded respiratory disease, a team of Italian scientists on Wednesday claimed that it has successfully developed the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine that can neutralise the coronavirus.
Perhaps, it’s not just Italy, but other countries such as Israel, the US and the UK are claiming to have discovered vaccines and crucial drugs that can help treat COVID-19. More than 100 vaccines are currently being tested across the world as scientists speed up the race for coronavirus disease cure. In an Exclusive Interview with Times Now Digital, Dr Inder Maurya, Consultant -Emergency Medicine – CEO and Founder, Foreign OPD, discussed India’s role in coronavirus vaccine and how countries can help prevent or tackle a second wave of an outbreak among many others.
Below are excerpts from the Interview.
Will we have a vaccine for COVID-19 by September/October this year?
Dr Inder Maurya: Yes. Italy and Israel are already at the forefront of it. The vaccine is already in phase 3 trials and is being tested in humans. Having said that, the world has got together to defeat coronavirus. We are at the peak of science and technology. We have a high-end AI and its system which can help accelerate the process and were not available a decade before. Hence, I have a firm belief that we would see a fully functional vaccine by then.
Why are so many vaccines being tested/developed for COVID-19?
Dr Inder Maurya: Well, desperate time, desperate measures. Multicentric multinational clinical trials are going on as the world unites to fight covid war together. Oxford has already started the largest clinical trial in Europe with more than 800 volunteers participating in the trials. Australia too has finished with successful animal trials and has begun human trials.
How do scientists measure how well a vaccine will work?
Dr Inder Maurya: Vaccine works on the principle of immunology. When we suffer some infection, say SARS-CoV-2, the immune system release antibodies (IGM) against this virus. They (antibodies) fight off the infection. And once the infections get defeated, the body memory cells get stimulated and protective antibodies (IGG) are stored. So next time, when the virus (SARS- CoV-2) infects, these protective antibodies will immediately rise and destroy the infection. This is the whole principle behind the vaccine as well. We inject sufficient antigen (attenuated) to elicit an immune response but not cause infection, thereby helping the body forms protective antibodies.
Will the COVID crisis end if a vaccine is found?
Dr Inder Maurya: It depends, if the virus undergoes genetic mutations then we would have to develop a new vaccine for that strain. But not to worry, since in case of influenza A (swine flu) we are every year injecting new vaccine depending upon the new viral strain.
What are Indian drugmakers doing in the fight against coronavirus disease? Please elaborate India’s role in COVID-19 vaccine research and treatment.
Dr Inder Maurya: India has been at the forefront in fighting the COVID war. But you do realise that you need more government funding towards healthcare research – we contributed less than 1% of GDP to the healthcare segment. After the Narendra Modi’s government came to power, we started concentrating more on healthcare research. Newer guidelines were framed, the number of PhD students increased, more funds are allocated to research, etc. International collaborations are being done at top Israeli and American institutes.
A top Indian pharmaceutical company has recently sought ICMR’s nod for the clinical trial of pegylated interferons alfa 2b against coronavirus disease. The antiviral drug is used in Hepatitis B and C Rx.
Research has warned that the COVID-19 is likely to last 2 years and return with a vengeance. Do you think will there be a second wave of coronavirus? How do we stop or tackle a second outbreak?
Dr Inder Maurya: Yes, there will be a second wave, perhaps, that’s how a pandemic works. However, the severity will be much lesser. Since by then we shall be very well equipped to handle the second wave with drugs like remedisivir showing promising results. Also, we might have a vaccine by then.
However, people must adhere to the guidelines such as – social distancing, wearing masks, regularly washing hands, or using hand sanitiser, effective communication strategies, etc.
Mass awareness about the prevention of the COVID-19 will go a long way in preventing the spread of the killer SARS-CoV- 2 virus. – Times Now NEws