SARS-CoV-2 -- The Big One

A friend asked me two weeks ago whether or not this pandemic was “the big one”. At the time, I wasn’t sure. Today I can say with certainty, yes. This is a big one in terms of lives affected and lost, and economies destroyed. But it is a big one not as a consequence of the virus itself, but of our failure to act effectively in the face of it.
Earlier this week I published a piece in Project Syndicate comparing our efforts in the United States to those in countries that have managed to contain their outbreaks, like Singapore, South Korea, and China. Their success is a result of an aggressive approach to testing, contact tracing and mandatory quarantine, which I have spoken about before. Fortunately, in some communities, we are beginning to right the ship.
Meanwhile, scientists continue to work feverishly toward a medical solution. Though there are still many obstacles along our path to developing a vaccine, there are promising drug candidates that were developed in the aftermath of SARS and MERS that are now being fast tracked to clinical trials. In an interview with Houston Public Radio, I discussed another short term potential treatment: passive immune therapy. You can listen to that discussion here, or read a transcript of the interview to skim to that specific section.
For those of you who are interested in reading the experiences of others in the face of Covid-19, I would invite you to follow a new series I have started on Medium where I share stories from friends around the world. This week, I shared one from a physician friend in India on what doctors there are seeing, along with a story of an American woman quarantined in Singapore with her five year old daughter.
Finally, I would like to share an article that appeared in the New York Times which pleased me immensely. Bad News Wrapped in Protein: Inside the Coronavirus Genome describes in beautiful detail all we currently know about SARS-CoV-2, including its precise genetic code and the three dimensional structure of each of its proteins. When I was a student, many years ago, it took us years to determine one such structure. No longer. Our ability to so quickly understand so much about this virus is a testament to what we can achieve when we apply the best of ourselves toward a common goal.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.