This week, a 43-year-old Seattle woman became the first person in the U.S. to be injected with a coronavirus vaccine. Don't get too excited, though—it's merely the first step in the clinical trials that will determine if the vaccine is safe and effective, a process that experts say will take 18 months or more.
It's also not the only vaccine being developed. Thanks to early efforts in China to sequence the genetic makeup of Sars-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) and share it with the world, scientists everywhere had a head start on the process. China's first vaccine was just approved for clinical trials, and scientists around the world are working on their own versions of vaccines to try to stop the global march of the virus.
While that's great, how will we know which of the vaccines being developed are the most effective? And if different countries come up with different treatments for the COVID-19 disease, how will we know which ones work the best?
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that they've created an international trial to study the various coronavirus treatments being developed to determine which ones work the best—a move that will help all of us in every nation.
"Multiple small trials with different methods may not give us the clear, strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives. WHO and partners are organizing a study in many countries in which some of these untested treatments are compared with each other," said WHO director Dr. Tedros in a media briefing today.
"This large, international study is designed to generate the robust data we need, to show which treatments are the most effective. We have called this study the SOLIDARITY trial."
Okay, that's the best possible name for a global study that brings countries together to solve the most immediate global crisis we've seen in our lifetime.
"The SOLIDARITY trial provides simplified procedures to enable even hospitals that have been overloaded to participate," Tedros said. "Many countries have already confirmed that they will join the SOLIDARITY trial—Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand—and I trust many more will join."
My country, the U.S., is notably missing from that list. I hope we will step up and do the right thing here. We're all going to have to work together to defeat this virus, and pretending that we're somehow separate from the rest of humanity just isn't going to fly anymore.
Tedros added that the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund—a first-of-its-kind fun to help countries response to the coronavirus pandemic—has now raised more than $43 million from more than 173,000 individuals and organizations.
"These and other efforts give me hope that together, we can and will prevail," said Tedros. "This coronavirus is presenting us with an unprecedented threat. But it's also an unprecedented opportunity to come together as one against a common enemy."
Exactly. This virus is a common enemy to all humankind, the likes of which we have never faced. Now's the time for the entire planet—every country—to come together in solidarity and combine the best of all our resources to defeat it.
If you'd like to support the work of the WHO, find out more about the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and donate here.
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