Corona viruses have awakened the world to the increase in Zoonotic diseases. In 2002 it was SARS that leapt onto the global stage infecting 8000 people leading to death in 10 percent of patients though severe lung impairment, known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Today we are living with the rapid progression of another Corona virus. COVID 19, formally titled SARS-CoV-2 to differentiate it from SARS-CoV-1. Research is moving rapidly forward to learn the similarities and difference in these viruses. With over 300 papers in the researcher’s repository since the outbreak in China in December 2019, the attention is on multiple aspects of virus operations, comparisons with SARS-CoV-1 for clinical management, vaccine development and use of drugs that have been successful with diseases such as malaria and Ebola.
Researchers are particularly interested in exploring the use of “older” existing drugs used to treat such diseases as malaria and Ebola. Finding drugs that may be helpful with the respiratory harm caused by the virus are important because there is no treatment yet for SARS-CoV-2. Currently clinical management is supportive. When a patient progresses from a moderate form to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) they struggle for life and require intubation and ventilation. The reality of the aggressive nature of this virus is rather graphically described in an interview with a respiratory therapist.
Fast Paced Research
There is a global effort underway to identify use of older drugs that may prevent rapid progression of respiratory distress to full blow ARDS. Estimates today are that about 15 percent of patients develop ARDS and do so quickly. The World Health Organization initiated a global trial in a program called SOLIDARITY.
Read more about it in the Press Release from WHO on March 27, 2020
Likewise, the US National Institute of Health has 239 studies underway with multiple countries involved in the search for treatment answers: Clinical Trails.gov. Each study is listed with intervention to be used and you can click on the links of study title to view more detail.
In addition, the Map tab allows you to see the global effort underway by noting the country and number of studies underway in each country.
Efforts such as these are unprecedented. Driven by the reality of not only this Pandemic but awareness that Zoonotic diseases are increasing. Scientists are calling for a global and proactive approach to planning a perhaps mitigating the risk in areas where transfer from animals to humans is more likely.
A Reminder of Our Role
This virus is aggressive and each one of us has the responsibility to take on the battle with the steps you’ve heard and read repeatedly. Social distance and thorough hand washing embraced seem to be making a difference in Europe with new report form Imperial College London Report March 30, 2020
Practical patient information is available on this evidence-based resource used by clinicians: Up-to-Date. Take time to explore and find the overview of COVID 19 and recommendations for self-management in the milder forms.
Stay healthy, readers, and send us your questions or comments.