Curing Covid? Why Vaccines Are More Important Than Drug Treatments
Paula Canon, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine said “They can’t live by themselves, they aren’t independent, they can’t process food, take in oxygen, reproduce themselves without the master support system of being the parasite inside a living cell,” when talking about viruses.
When thinking about this we start to wonder, why do viruses such as Covid-19, cause so many issues for us? Vaccines traditionally have worked far better at eliminating viruses than medicine or drug treatment. Medicine and drugs help our immune systems fight off infections, but they do not make us immune. Vaccines are what we use to develop immunity against viruses, and some of them have helped develop enough herd immunity so that certain viruses can no longer spread throughout our population, we refer to these diseases as eradicated. “Our immune system is the world’s best drug maker,” Canon said. “Whether you had measles as a 5-year-old or Covid as a 50-year-old, our immune system comprises this vast library of potential antiviral approaches that offer protection.”
She notes that it takes the immune system approximately two weeks for the immune system to get going. After about two weeks our body has started to make millions of antibodies to fight off the virus. Canon says, “There are so many antibodies in the blood, coating the virus. They do a good job of neutralizing the virus. Eventually, the antibodies win the day.”
So, when scientists and health experts talk about a cure for the coronavirus, what they really mean is developing a drug that can slow the virus. Raed Dweik, chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute in Ohio says, “When we can’t kill a virus, the best thing we can do is stop them from replicating. All we can do is shorten the period of infection, not cure. Even when the infection is over, the patient is more recovered than cured.”
Remdesivir is a drug we have posted several blogs about now as a treatment for Covid-19. It works by blocking the virus from replicating, and in trials has shown that it can help patients recover more quickly. But it is important to note that is it not a cure. “Because we can’t treat them very well, the critical thing is always prevention,” Dweik said. “Once you get infected, there is very little we can do other than support you through it or perhaps shorten it a bit. That’s why finding a vaccine is so important.”
Be sure to come back to the ABN Blog for more updates about Covid-19