by Eugenio Maximo Caoili
Summary on COVID-19 and Efforts Against It
When the pandemic began, the World Health Orgaization shared information on pandemic preparedness, as COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency Concern. Meetings about research on the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, followed as well as protection from transmission, with COVID-19 reaching 1 million cases shortly afterwards.
Live concerts to celebrate frontliners followed, raising millions for the effort against COVID. Conferences on even distribution of technologies against COVID-19, as well as plans for a global response against COVID-19, with the International Health regulations being checked to make sure that it’s more effective. Meetings regarding early even distribution of technologies against COVID-19 followed, as well as deeper and deeper research into the origins of the Sars-Cov-2 virus. Millions of COVID rapid test kits were produced after when the WHO partnered up with others, being affordable, available to middle income countries and of higher quality.
The UN General Assembly met up to discuss fair access to vaccines. New variants from South Africa and the UK began to show up, and during this time, the first vaccines began to be distributed, with the WHO emphasising on fair and equal access to them for everyone. The WHO Strategic Advisory Group reviewed data of the vaccines to help make instructions on how to properly use them, with the WHO later bringing together over 1,000 experts from over 100 countries to discuss knowledge gaps and research priorities, among a lot of other things.
A team of scientists arrived in Wuhan, China to research deeper into Sars-Cov-2 more, as well as several meetings discussing the mutations of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, and the effectiveness of the vaccines especially due to all the new variants that still pop up today, with the WHO stressing on making the most effective use of the limited supply of current vaccines and more research on newer vaccines and the need for a next-generation vaccine to be able to stop COVID-19’s spread.
The four types of vaccines against COVID-19:
Whole Virus Vaccines: These vaccines use a weakened version of the SARS CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, which cannot cause infection when injected into the body. It does, however, trigger an immune system response, in which antibodies are produced against the virus, which can be remembered by memory cells and those antibodies can be used against the actual virus again.
Protein Subunit Vaccines: These vaccines use only a part of SARS CoV-2, such as the spike proteins, can be used to produce antibodies. These vaccines are much easier and cheaper to produce, though the memory cells are less able to recognize the parts of the virus as threats, triggering less of an immune system response. Because of this, chemical agents called adjuvants are added to the vaccine to stimulate a stronger response by the immune system. Booster shots may be required for this type of vaccine.
Viral Vector Vaccines: These vaccines insert a genetic code for the antigen from SARS CoV-2 into a harmless virus which can usefully deliver the code for the antigen into cells without causing disease. These vaccines could be complex to develop but can trigger immune responses without adjuvants.
Nucleic Acid Vaccines: These vaccines like mRNA and DNA vaccines also insert genetic code into cells to make antigens, though they do it in a different way. They insert the genetic code directly either by attaching it to a molecule or inserting it into a molecule by force using a gene gun. Though they are still a brand new technology, these vaccines could be cheap and easy to make.
Top tips on how to protect yourself from Covid:
According to the World Health Organization or WHO, you should:
- Stay at least one meter away from others to reduce the risk of transmission from others when talking, coughing, or sneezing. Stay further away from others while indoors. The further away you are from others, the better.
- Use masks while around other people are around.
- Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
- Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth and chin.
- When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask, or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.
- Don’t use masks with valves.
Make your environment safer. According to the World Health Organization or WHO, you should:
- Avoid the 3 Cs, or spaces which are closed, crowded, or involve close contact.
- Meet people outside instead of inside for better air.
- Avoid crowded or indoor settings as much as possible. If not, open a window for more fresh air and wear a mask.
Good hygiene: According to the World Health Organization or WHO, you should:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water to eliminate germs and viruses on your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the virus from getting from your hands to your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue in a bin and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently especially those which are regularly touched such as door handles, faucets, and cellphones.
What to do if you don’t feel good. According to the World Health Organization or WHO, you should:
- Know the full range of symptoms of COVID-19, the most common of which being fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Others may be loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, diarrhoea, or a skin rash.
- Stay home and self-isolate even if you have minor symptoms such as cough, headache, and mild fever until you recover. Call your healthcare hotline for advice, let someone bring supplies to you, and if you need to go out, wear a mask to prevent infecting others.
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately. Call by telephone first, if you can and follow the directions of your local health authority.
- Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities, which are the best sources for advice on what you should be doing to protect yourself.
Sources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFjIVIIcCvc, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/interactive-timeline#!, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public