The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China. This virus is spread from person to person, usually when people are in close contact with each other, when saliva droplets come in contact with people who are infected with the virus, or through contact of contaminated surfaces. It is very important to be careful not to come in close contact with people who have flu-like symptoms. It is also very important to wash your hands very frequently and avoid touching your mouth, nose or face, in order to prevent an illness.
The incubation period of the virus is not exactly known, but it is estimated to be between 2 – 14 days of exposure. The most common symptoms that have been reported are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. If you or someone you know have had contact with someone with flu-like symptoms, be careful of monitoring the presence of cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Please contact your healthcare professional in case you have any of these symptoms. There are also some geographical regions where the virus has had important outbreaks, for example, China, Italy, and Korea. If you or anyone you know has traveled to those countries recently and start having the symptoms described before, it is very important to contact a healthcare professional.
A lot of measures to prevent and cure this disease are being taken. For instance, a lot of companies are limiting business travel only to when it is absolutely necessary. Some companies have also been asking employees who have been in countries where there have been outbreaks to stay working at home at least for 2 weeks and to report any symptoms they may have. Campaigns to promote frequent hand washing and proper sneezing techniques are also being carried out in several places.
At the pharma level, a lot of studies are now being carried out in order to know more about the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Also, there are clinical protocols testing drugs in order to find a cure or a vaccine. There are some drugs that are currently marketed for another indication that are being studied to see if they work for the COVID-19. For example, AbbVie’s Kaletra® and AIM ImmunoTech’s Ampligen®. There are others under development, for example, APEIRON Biologics’s APN01, Biocryst’s Galidesivir, and CureVac’s mRNA-based vaccine.
Despite all the bad news that we have heard so far regarding the novel coronavirus, we are optimistic that it will be controlled and that eventually a vaccine and/or a cure will be found.