Stay Safe - Be Prepared
For the health of your family and your community
While self-quarantining and physical distancing are no easy tasks for any of us, they are necessary sacrifices for the greater good. We all want our healthcare system to be available to us and those we care about when we need medical care.
Currently, in Canada and in most countries around the world, COVID-19 continues to spread. Flattening the upward curve of infection rates requires everyone’s participation.1
Vaccines are in development
Efforts to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus are ongoing around the world. As of May 15, the World Health Organization reported 110 candidate vaccines in early stage evaluation, while eight are being assessed in human Phase 1 and Phase 2b/3 trials.2 This is crucial since vaccination is the only means of preventing infection. While vaccine development is a lengthy process, typically taking many years, there is reason for optimism.
Research groups working to develop a vaccine have a good start in the process thanks to efforts of Chinese scientists early in the course of the pandemic to sequence the genetic material — information that has since been shared around the world.
The fact that coronaviruses were responsible for two epidemics in the past 20 years may also facilitate the development of a vaccine. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, shares between 80 to 90 per cent of its genetic material with the coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that started in China in 2002-2004. Another coronavirus was responsible for the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) epidemic that emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Both of those outbreaks were contained while scientists were still working on creating a vaccine, so the research was put aside. Now some researchers are building on those early steps to develop vaccines that will protect against COVID-19.
Like many vaccines, they are designed to do this by training the immune system to produce antibodies which in this case could recognize and block the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to enter human cells.3
On May 16, the Canadian Center for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University received federal approval to begin clinical trials of a potential vaccine for COVID-19. Health Canada also recently authorized laboratory use of antibody tests to assess blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies, which would indicate previous exposure to the virus. As well, 33 clinical trials are approved to assess developing treatments and supportive care for people who have contracted the virus.4
While these are early days in a quickly evolving global situation, we can take heart from the quick response of scientists and medical experts, supported by the institutions and businesses that employ them.
Be part of the solution
Until we have a vaccine developed, we can all contribute by doing our part to avoid spreading COVID-19:
- Wash your hands well and often.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands to keep the virus out of your system.
- Wear a homemade non-medical mask or face covering in public when it is not possible to maintain a 2-metre physical distance.5
- Be aware that the virus can be spread by infected people before they have symptoms, if they develop any. That is why we all need to practice safety precautions like physical distancing, even when we feel well.1
Concerned about symptoms?
- Symptoms can range from very mild, cold-like symptoms to the more flu-like symptoms that mark the disease.
- The Public Health Agency of Canada strongly urges anyone who has symptoms — including a fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat, or difficulty breathing — to completely self-isolate for 14 days.
- Use the online self-assessment tool [https://ca.thrive.health/ covid19/en] to help you decide if further assessment is needed.4
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This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Note: the hyperlinks that direct to other sites are not continuously updated. It is possible that some links become untraceable over time. Thank you.
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update
- DRAFT landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines – 20 April 2020
- Coronavirus vaccines: five key questions as trials begin
- Health Canada approves first clinical trial for potential COVID-19 vaccine
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)