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Our personal opinion on SARS-CoV-2. Juana Díez and Andreas Meyerhans

Our personal opinion on SARS-CoV-2. Juana Díez and Andreas Meyerhans

Juana Díez and Andreas Meyerhans, group leaders at the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences. 

23.03.2020

 

Once again, the new SARS-CoV-2 reminds us about the potential of infectious pathogens to fiercely spread worldwide and puts our well-being in danger. What makes this new virus special is perhaps the high frequency of infected individuals, about 80%, that only have mild symptoms. These persons will continue infecting others and spread the virus unless inter-human contacts are massively restricted. Governments now seem to have got this message and are putting measures into place that will hopefully slow down virus spreading and allow health care systems to cope. Likewise, they are trying to handle the increasing threats that these efforts of virus containment will have for our economies.

Governments now seem to have got this message and are putting measures into place that will hopefully slow done virus spreading and allow health care systems to cope. 

An enormous challenge and a difficult task indeed. The questions arising are now what will happen? and what can we do to improve the situation? First, inhibiting virus spread is key and requires the massive restriction of inter-human contacts, stay at home, no kisses, no hand-shakes, distance to others of around 2 meters and hand washing or disinfection. All well described in the media but we also have to follow these rules in a strict manner.

While the data so far are still very preliminary and require further studies with more patients, they are very encouraging and underline the enormous efforts that medics and researchers have been doing in the last months.

Second, helping within local communities. Since inter-human contacts are restricted to fulfil essential needs like buying food, medication or visiting clinicians, we should wonder if there are persons in our surrounding that would need help in these tasks. Buying some food for a neighbour that is handicapped will not hurt and might be very welcome.

It also stresses that a functional research system and research institutions are essential.

Third, vaccines. Vaccination against MERS, a SARS-CoV-2-related coronavirus, works and thus it seems likely that we will have a potent vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 as well. Clinical studies have already started but this vaccine will probably not be available before next year. Forth, antiviral drugs. There is no specific anti- SARS-CoV-2 drug available at present. However, numerous trials are ongoing. For us the most promising current drug candidates are hydroxyl-chloroquine given in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin (EU Clinical Trials Register number 2020-000890-25) and Remdesivir (DOI: 10.1038/s41422-020-0282-0).

While the data so far are still very preliminary and require further studies with more patients, they are very encouraging and underline the enormous efforts that medics and researchers have been doing in the last months. It also stresses that a functional research system and research institutions are essential to rapidly respond to novel threats that will inevitably arise also in the time when SARS-CoV-2 is under control. We sincerely hope that the Spanish government will take this in consideration when defining its budget.  

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