3 Ways We Can Combat Covid-19 Without A Vaccine

By Ellen Kershner on April 30 2020 in Society

The entire world is now busy combating the COVID-19 disease.
The entire world is now busy combating the COVID-19 disease.
  • there are experimental vaccines that could already be showing signs of success.
  • Another one of the vaccines in development has shown to protect monkeys from infection of the novel coronavirus.
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus
  • Proper hand washing is done with soap and water, and should take 20 seconds at least.

The main question that is on so many people’s minds these days is if – and when – there will be a COVID-19 vaccine. Leading scientists like Anthony Fauci of the U.S. and Sir Patrick Vallance of the UK seem confident that it will not happen for 12 to 18 months. In the meantime, there are experimental vaccines that could already be showing signs of success.  

Vaccines In The Works

Adrian Hill is a Professor of Human Genetics at of the University of Oxford. He told the Guardian that he and his group might have a COVID-19 vaccine ready by the summer, but this is subject to change. His colleague Sarah Gilbert said that their vaccine was effective in clinical trials, but that large quantities would not be available until the fall.

Another one of the vaccines in development has shown to protect monkeys from infection of the novel coronavirus. This vaccine is being worked on by Sinovac Biotech, a private company based in Beijing. They administered it to macaque monkeys; three weeks later the same monkeys were dosed with SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. None of them ended up with full-blown infections.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that as of April 23, six additional vaccines had begun human trails, with 77 more in the works. Meng Weining is Sinovac’s senior director for overseas regulatory affairs, and he said that during a pandemic, the most important thing to do is to create a vaccine that is “safe and effective as soon as possible.” Until that happens, though, what are the best strategies for keeping COVID-19 at bay?

Social Distancing

Coronavirus pandemic effects: long queue to enter the supermarket for grocery shopping. Turin, Italy. Image credit: MikeDotta/Shutterstock.com

No one really knew what this meant back in 2019, but rest assured that it is part of almost everyone’s vocabularies these days. This is because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has emphatically and repeatedly stated that “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.” This is because COVID-19 mostly spreads person-to-person, via respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected people sneeze, cough, or talk.

To prevent contamination, people must avoid close contact with others and stay about six feet apart. Large gatherings, close quarters, handshakes, and hugs are all no-nos. This is very difficult for people, especially when landmark events like weddings and funerals have to be postponed or cancelled. People who live alone can find it especially difficult to be by themselves all the time.

Although social distancing is challenging, it is the best way to prevent spread of the virus. There are many ways to make it easier, and one of the best ones is to get outside for some fresh air. Unprecedented numbers of people can be seen out walking alone or with a friend, walking their dogs, bicycling, skateboarding, and running. There are also many ways to communicate with the outside world through technology, with video conferencing software like Zoom, apps like Facetime, Houseparty, and other programs for schools and businesses.

Cover Up

Buyer wearing a protective mask. Image credit: Eldar Nurkovic/Shutterstock.com

When leaving the house to run necessary errands, you can wear a face mask to protect yourself and others. Healthcare workers must use certain types of masks, and everyone else can use cloth ones. These should not be put on anyone who has breathing difficulties, is incapacitated, unconscious, or under the age of two. The mask should cover your nose and mouth, and should not be adjusted or touched after you leave your home or vehicle. Keep in mind that masks are not a substitute for necessary social distancing.

The use of gloves has come into question because they are not always used correctly. For example, someone who wears gloves to a grocery store but is texting on their phone could be transmitting germs from their phones to whatever they subsequently touch.  Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security does not recommended gloves except for health-care workers and people with cuts on their hands. He said that good hand hygiene is a better strategy.

Strict Hygiene

Hand washing is an important way to maintain hygiene to avoid catching infections. Image credit: Ancoay/Shutterstock.com

It is essential to always cover you nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, even when there is not a pandemic. If a tissue is not handy, use the inside part of your elbow instead. Used tissues should be immediately thrown in the trash, and hands should be washed.

Proper hand washing is done with soap and water, and should take 20 seconds at least. Since a sink and soap are not always at the ready, have some hand sanitizer with you at all times. Check the label; it should have at least 60 percent alcohol. Also remember to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth.

Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected every day. This includes:

  • Doorknobs, handles, and light switches
  • Tables and countertops
  • Toilets, sinks, and faucets
  • Keyboards and phones
  • Desks

If the surfaces are dirty, they should first be washed with soap and water. Then, disinfect using a household disinfectant, an alcohol solution with 70 percent alcohol, or a diluted bleach solution.

These protocols are especially important for high-risk populations and those who come into contact with them. The higher-risk group includes adults over the age of 65, people with medical conditions like diabetes, heart, liver, kidney, or lung disease, and residents in long-term care facilities. People who are severely obese or immunocompromised are also at higher risk. The latter includes those who smoke, are undergoing cancer treatments, or who have had organ transplants.

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