Q.1-What good measures do you think we should take in fighting this pandemic? Where are we lagging behind?
The twofold solution is needed:
By the government in various ways – continue to increase the number of tests. No number is more than enough, more we test, closer we reach in tracking, tracing, and breaking the chain. Improve the condition of isolation/quarantine facilities, support doctors, health care staff, keep on educating the common public, and support people financially as needed at ground level. This will help them in not taking extreme steps to earn their livings.
But most importantly, common people are going to play the major and most important role in fighting this pandemic.
I can see three categories of people in India. Let me describe them a bit here:
Category 1: Positive fear (this means fear as needed)
Go out in need or for work only. This category of citizens use masks, follow physical distancing, needed hygiene, and support others in their family for not leaving the house without need. These types of people are going to be saviors of India. They will work, earn, and will remain safe as well.
These types of people are going to let the country win the battle against COVID-19. We need to cascade this fear and every individual should be in this category to win this battle.
Category 2: Negative Fear (Catastrophic fear)
People who are only scared of administration during lockdown/restrictions. They go out when they get a chance, even without need. After the lockdown is lifted or relaxed, they will turn out to be the biggest risk for themselves, family, and nation. They also don’t understand the importance of physical distancing, safety measures, etc.
Category 3: Excessive fear
Some people are so scared, that they have gone into depression, impacting their own health, they are weakening their immunity and increased risk for themselves. These type of people will not
spread COVID but they will adversely impact their own health in other ways.
Q.2- Is hydroxy-chloroquine a useful drug in the treatment of COVID-19 positive patients?
Hydroxy-chloroquine is still under study, for its efficacy in COVID-19. The clinical trials are ongoing.
We need to wait to see a promising and concrete data from clinical trials of hydroxy-chloroquine.
Nothing can be confirmed as of now. No one should take this medicine on their own.
There are various other medicines under clinical trials to treat COVID-19. Remdesivir has shown some positive results and has been approved by US-FDA for emergency use in treating COVID.
Various other countries have approved Remedesivir as an emergency drug, to treat COVID. This is still not a sure shot treatment. We still need to wait a bit to get an effective drug. Few studies are showing very positive results of new and existing medicines, and we hope to get an effective treatment soon.
Q.3- Do you see any ray of hope in the field of the invention of vaccine for COVID-19?
Yes, in fact there is a race to develop vaccines and drugs for COVID-19. Several companies are in the advanced stage of clinical trials of their vaccines and drugs. Several vaccines are showing promising
initial data from trials – like from Oxford, Cancino, Sinovac, Moderna, Inovio, Pfizer, etc
In addition to this, at least 110 vaccine studies are in the pre-clinical phase and we will see many of them moving to the clinical trial phase soon.
Also every company and government regulatory bodies are expediting the approvals, and studies are fast-tracked to come out with an effective vaccine as soon as possible.
Q.4- What are your views on WHO’s statement that Corona(COVID-19) will never end and it will stay with us forever?
It doesn’t matter and this is not a statement of high importance. When we will have vaccine and immunity, the virus will be like any other normal virus staying with us. And of course with the spread of COVID in every country across the globe, the virus will not end at its own. The vaccine is needed to end the impact.
Q.5- Is COVID-19 lab generated or a natural virus? What are your views?
No one as of now has been able to confirm this with solid proof. If you google, many websites will claim that COVID-19 is man-made, but none of the bodies have been able to provide any proof. Some scientists have claimed that the COVID-19 virus doesn’t look man-made.
So, we don’t know OR we may never ever come to know.
Sr Director and Head of Asia Pacific, Clinical Trials Start-up Department at ICON Clinical Research, Singapore