Several paths with different timelines for declaring an end to the pandemic.
A variety of treatments are being explored to prevent the worst outcomes and reduce mortality rates. These include convalescent plasma, antivirals, monoclonal antibodies, and immune modulators.
Scientists claim an inexpensive and widely used steroid, dexamethasone, could reduce COVID-19 deaths from the severely ill by up to one third. The drug Remdesivir is FDA approved for Emergency Use but supply is running low. Several antibody treatments could be approved as early as September 2020.
Effective and high volume production of treatments could curtail the course of COVID-19.
Global, accelerated efforts are underway to develop a safe and effective vaccine. Vaccine development and approval typically take about a decade. Researchers at Moderna and The National Institutes of Health (NIH) used a new technique enabling clinical trials to commence March 2020. After announcing success with phase 1, the final stage clinical trial is starting in July 2020. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) will begin clinical trials in July 2020. If the vaccine is deemed safe and effective, J&J estimates production of up to 900 million doses by April 2021.
The Jenner Institute at Oxford could complete clinical trials on their vaccine in September 2020, with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca lined up to manufacture 2 billion doses.
While rapid vaccine advancement is hopeful, a vaccine still faces a number of hurdles. For instance, vaccines work by training your body to detect when a virus has invaded. Your immune system produces antibodies to attack the invader. Researchers are still investigating whether someone who has been sick with COVID-19 and has developed antibodies can become reinfected. If reinfection is possible, it could present complications for a successful vaccine.
3. Herd immunity
When approximately 60% of the population has been infected, ‘herd immunity’ hinders virus spread. This could take years, and reinfection of COVID-19 may still be possible, making herd immunity an unlikely candidate to bring an end to the pandemic.
4. We get used to it
The New York Times reports the pandemic “could end socially before it ends medically.” This means we don’t beat the virus but instead decide to live with it, and accept how many will succumb to it. This is the Swedish approach and the approach The United States is currently embarking on.