The deadly Coronavirus has infected more than 90,000 people and killed about 3,000 globally since it was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December last year. The vast majority of infections and deaths have occurred in mainland China, but the rapid spread of the virus has caused a devastating effect across the globe. Governments have shut borders and imposed quarantines, and companies have imposed travel bans.
However, there is no vaccine and no specific anti-viral medicine to prevent or cure COVID-19. Those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms and WHO says most patients recover due to supportive care. In medical research labs around the world, scientists are racing to develop a vaccine. According to a report, Drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Monday that it identified certain anti-viral compounds it had in development that have the potential to inhibit Coronaviruses and is engaging with a third party to screen the compounds.
The company said it hopes to have the results from that screening by the end of March and if any of the compounds are successful, it would hope to start testing them by the end of the year. Some drugmakers are repurposing old antivirals. Some are mobilizing tried-and-true technologies, and others are pressing forward with futuristic approaches to human medicine to find a cure to COVID-19.
Cases of the COVID-19 virus seem to be levelling off in China. But elsewhere, infections – and deaths – are rising. The most commonly reported symptoms include fever, dry cough and tiredness. In the most severe cases, people with the virus can develop difficulty breathing, and may ultimately experience organ failure. Some cases are fatal. For now, the health advice in most countries is the same – avoid areas experiencing an outbreak, cough or sneeze into tissues before binning them, and wash your hands.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said there was no need to panic and urged people to work together, a day after two Indians tested positive for the deadly coronavirus in the country. The Prime Minister also said he had held an “extensive review” with several ministries and state governments about the level of preparedness to tackle coronavirus. “There is no need to panic. We need to work together, take small yet important measures to ensure self-protection,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
The government on Tuesday put export restrictions on 26 pharma ingredients and medicines, including paracetamol, vitamin B1 and B12, amid the coronavirus outbreak in China. With this, the export of these active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations requires licence from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an arm of the commerce ministry. Earlier, there were no restrictions on outbound shipments of these products.
The novel virus was first detected in December 2019. It is a respiratory disease that has been named 'SARS-CoV-2' and was initially named 'Coronavirus disease 2019', then abbreviated to 'COVID-19'. The World Health Organization (WHO) was first alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan at the end of December. Chinese authorities confirmed they had identified a new virus a week later.
On January 30, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee (IHREC) of the WHO declared the situation as critical but expressed full confidence in China's ability to address the public emergency and contain the virus. After WHO called the situation a public health emergency of international concern, governments around the started issuing travel advisory while simultaneously evacuating its nationals stranded in Wuhan.