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Fighting COVID19: A quick review of diagnoses, therapies, and vaccines

The #coronavirus disease 2019 (#COVID19) pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus, #SARSCoV2, has infected more than 22 million individuals and resulted in over 780,000 deaths globally. The rapid spread of the virus and the precipitously increasing numbers of cases necessitate the urgent development of accurate diagnostic methods, effective treatments, and vaccines. Here, we review the progress of developing diagnostic methods, therapies, and vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on current clinical trials and their challenges. For diagnosis, nucleic acid amplification tests remain the mainstay diagnostics for laboratory confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection, while serological antibody tests are used to aid contact tracing, epidemiological, and vaccine evaluation studies. Viral isolation is not recommended for routine diagnostic procedures due to safety concerns. Currently, no single effective drug or specific vaccine is available against SARS-CoV-2. Some candidate drugs targeting different levels and stages of human responses against COVID-19 such as cell membrane fusion, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, viral protease inhibitor, interleukin 6 blocker, and convalescent plasma may improve the clinical outcomes of critical COVID-19 patients. Other supportive care measures for critical patients are still necessary. Advances in genetic sequencing and other technological developments have sped up the establishment of a variety of vaccine platforms. Accordingly, numerous vaccines are under development. Vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2 are mainly based upon the viral spike protein due to its vital role in viral infectivity, and most of these candidates have recently moved into clinical trials. Before the efficacy of such vaccines in humans is demonstrated, strong international coordination and collaboration among studies, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, and governments are needed to limit further damage due the emerging SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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