Moderna has begun phase three of its clinical trial to test a potential vaccine candidate for the coronavirus, and medical experts are hopeful that this may pave the way for a controlled COVID-19. But Dr. Nicole Saphier, a physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and medical contributor to Fox News, said that until we have a vaccine, “we will be dancing with this virus for a while, so life must go on.”
In an opinion piece for Fox News, Saphier said “there is no such thing as being over-prepared for a health crisis.” While social distancing and wearing masks in public are basic protective measures, the expert pointed out that there is increasing evidence that the virus can be transmitted through aerosols lingering in the air, which may infect people through indirect contact. A study published in March in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that aerosolized coronavirus particles can live up to three hours in the air, meaning that they could infect people hours after being expelled.
She also pointed out that many healthcare officials advise that we protect our eyes. On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that Americans should think about wearing goggles or eye shields to prevent spreading or catching the virus during an Instagram Live conversation on ABC News.
Saphier said that the eye, like the surfaces of the nose and mouth, is a mucosal surface and could be a potential site of viral replication and a pathway for the virus to make its way into the body. She cited a 2008 study that suggested that the coronavirus may be transmitted through the eyes.
She added that heavier particles of the virus can land on surfaces. “If someone touches the item and then puts their hands in their mouth or nose then that is another way, albeit less frequent, of contracting the virus,” she said, adding that ensuring that everyone in the family washes their hands frequently can prevent this type of transmission.
Saphier said that our current system of testing is woefully slow and we must increase our capacity for quick and effective ways to diagnose COVID-19.
“Testing results must be available within hours, even minutes. Not days. And certainly not weeks,” she said, adding that her son waited two weeks for his results while maintaining the recommended self-quarantine.
Until a vaccine becomes available and our testing procedures are improved, the expert said that beating the virus takes cooperative effort.
“We should all continue to protect the vulnerable, encourage some level of physical distancing, wear a mask when we are around others (maybe even glasses or some other level of eye protection if inside a public place), and do everything we can to limit non-essential indoor gatherings,” she wrote.
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