What You Should Know About COVID-19
The best way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed by the current state of things is to stay informed about the virus.
Since the pandemic hit in March, your day-to-day life has probably changed in more ways than one. You may be spending more time at home and apart from those you love. You might be missing out on birthday parties, weddings, and big neighborhood gatherings. You likely worry about your family’s health more than ever. You might even know someone whose health has been personally affected by COVID-19.
It may be the new normal, but there’s nothing natural about the way we’re living right now—and that’s stressful. The best way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed by the current state of things is to stay informed about the virus: who it’s affecting, how it’s spreading, and knowing when there will be a vaccine already. Have questions? Read on!
Why Black and Latino Communities Are Getting Hit the Hardest
COVID-19 can affect anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or age. However, if you’re reading or listening to the news, you know it’s disproportionately impacting communities of color.
The public knows more today, because racial data is being collected and shared that reports the race and ethnicity for COVID-19 deaths. Not to anyone’s surprise, the data confirms that those who live in low-income communities are heaviest hit. This population has a higher rate of the underlying conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease that puts them at higher risk for COVID-19. Many of our essential workers live in these communities and put themselves and their families at risk each day when they leave for work. Dense housing conditions means the virus can spread more easily too.
In a recent NPR story “What Do Coronoavirus Racial Disparities Look Like State by State?” Dr. Marcellea Nunez-Smith, director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine, shared this statement:
"I've been at health equity research for a couple of decades now. Those of us in the field, sadly, expected this." "We know that these racial ethnic disparities in COVID-19 are the result of pre-pandemic realities. It's a legacy of structural discrimination that has limited access to health and wealth for people of color."
Until a vaccine is developed, the action we can take now to protect our loved ones and ourselves is to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.
How Scientists Are Working to Stop the Spread
Researchers are hard at work; the first clinical trials are underway in hopes of developing a vaccine quickly and safely.
Vaccines are typically developed in three phases, starting with a small group of study participants and increasing to a large group, all the while ensuring safety. In normal times, Phase 2 and Phase 3 of a clinical trial usually do not start until Phase 1 is complete. But in these hardly normal times, and in an effort to find a vaccine for COVID-19 sooner, researchers are condensing or overlapping the trial phases for faster results.
With COVID-19 vaccines, these time periods have been greatly reduced. Everyone involved including the FDA is working 7 days a week to make sure data are reviewed as soon as they are available. Importantly, the manufacturing procedures that are required to go from small to large batches of vaccines are being compressed, and they are being paid for by the United States government so that companies do not have to raise money for these large trials. In the search for a COVID-19 vaccine or antibody, some of the steps are overlapping instead of doing them one after the other. But NONE of the steps are skipped.
Researchers are also working with around 30,000 study participants, rather than the typical 4,000 to 5,000 participants, which allows them to meet the study objectives in a shorter period of time.
Want to Help?
- Raise your voice and lend a hand – Join an advocacy organization and put your passion to work for those that need their voices heard. Volunteer at a local church or hospital to provide food and supplies for those in need.
- Join a clinical trial to find a COVID-19 vaccine – The COVID-19 Prevention Network is looking for volunteers like you. Know the facts first. The COVID-19 Prevention Network can help determine if you are eligible and if one is opening up in your neighborhood. When you contact them, a researcher will talk with you directly before you decide whether or not to participate. They’ll answer your questions and give you more details on how it all works. It’s important to know, the more information researchers are able to collect from as many people as possible, the easier it will be to see whether a vaccine works or not—for everyone.
- Make masks – the reality is that we’ll be in this situation for months to come, mask wearing is recommended for everyone – especially those at high risk. Get some fun fabric, download a pattern online, and pull out that old sewing machine and make a difference.
Click here to learn more about the COVID-19 Prevention Network.
If you need assistance, please call 866-288-1919
COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) was formed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the US National Institutes of Health to respond to the global pandemic. Using the infectious disease expertise of their existing research networks and global partners, NIAID has directed the networks to address the pressing need for vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against SARS-CoV-2.