Few predicted a virus of unknown origins could have the power to dramatically change the world we live in. SARS‑CoV‑2, the virus responsible for COVID‑19, has become one of the most dangerous viruses in human history.
In the following pages, you will see illustrated virus bubbles, - the total areas represent the numbers of confirmed cases and their inner cores indicate death tolls. The serried bubbles remind us that COVID-19 is one of numerous plagues humans have lived through.
Back in 541 A.D., the first recorded plague in human history broke out in the Eastern Roman Empire. The epidemic made two comebacks over the next 1,400 years, killing at least 50 million people.
In the course of a long and tangled history, humans have been confronted with a barrage of contagious diseases. The fight between humans and viruses is destined to continue.
A number of diseases have been proven to have a natural origin, with animals as their natural reservoirs. Scientists are researching day and night to understand COVID‑19, but as yet its origins remain unknown.
Confronted with the relentless novel coronavirus, scientists are sharing information between institutions and countries via professional medical journals.
Scientists from China, the U.S., the UK, Germany, Singapore, France, Italy and Spain have published a total of 143 research papers in the six most prestigious medical journals – The Lancet, Science Magazine, Nature, The Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, the New England Journal of Medicine – as of May 22. Chinese medical researchers authored 67 of the studies.
After analyzing these papers, we found that the research concentrates on five key aspects: Clinical features, virology studies, transmission pattern, quarantine and tracking, as well as drug tests.
Among the 17 articles studying quarantine and tracking, seven clearly affirmed the effectiveness of China's isolation model.
Research papers can help lay the theoretical foundations for combating COVID‑19. But a vaccine will ultimately be needed.
On January 12, China submitted information about the novel coronavirus genome sequence to the WHO, and global vaccine research and development started soon after.
Each line in this chart represents a vaccine under development, with its length indicating the duration of the process to-date. Colors mark out countries. Light grey lines represent international collaboration on vaccine development.
A total of 73 vaccines were being developed in nine countries. China, the U.S., Germany, Singapore, South Korea, the UK, France, Italy and Spain – as of May 22, according to the WHO.
The thicknesses of the lines indicate the different progress of vaccine research and development. They represent the exploratory stage and animal testing as well as the phase I and phase II clinical trials. Vaccine developments with unknown start time are shown in dotted lines.
Ten vaccines from the nine countries had been approved for clinical trials as of May 22.
An article published on The Lancet on May 22, authored by Chinese medical scientist Chen Wei, states that the Vaccine Ad5-nCoV first human trial is safe and induces rapid immune response on all the 108 volunteers.
China has developed five COVID-19 vaccines in collaboration with other countries. Four of them are with the U.S.
Twenty one out of the 73 vaccines involve international collaborations. The dense connection lines in this chart illustrate unprecedented global cooperation and information sharing.
Clinical treatment is another frontier in the battle against COVID-19. As of May 22, China had declared a total of 345 clinical protocols, ranking first in the world.
We looked at the six most-used types of clinical protocols and found they are not new to humans. Chloroquine is mainly used for malaria treatment; Remdesivir worked against the Ebola virus; plasma therapy has contributed to SARS and MERS treatment; stem cells are effective with neuropathy; Tocilizumab (TCZ) is widely used to treat rheumatic arthritis.
Traditional-Chinese-medicine-related treatment accounts for nearly a third (111) of the 345 protocols of China. A livestreaming event held by traditional Chinese medicine professionals attracted 2.1 million views globally.
Research papers, vaccines, and clinical medicines provide methodologies to fight COVID-19. The size of these bubbles indicates scientific progress. When the bubble area gets larger, there is more hope for cracking COVID-19.
COVID-19 won't be the last battle between humans and viruses. Yet with the ammo and armor of scientists' wisdom and dedication, and the global consensus on protecting human's wellbeing, we shall not fear. Virus wars don't stop; exploration and research will continue.