FAQ about COVID-19

For laypeople

When and how will COVID-19 pandemic end?

COVID-19 pandemic may end in 2 ways.

  1. Vaccines - Need at least 12-18 months for the trials to complete. If at least 60% of population is immunised, herd immunity effect will prevent further infection of COVID-19.
  2. Natural immunity - Need at least 2 years. In case no vaccines are available, those infected will develop immunity to create herd effect and prevent further spread of the disease.

However, there is the third possibility that there is not clear endpoint for the pandemic, and some measures to tackle COVID-19 will continue to be in place. However, a permanent change in people's behaviour and hygiene will slow the spread.

Source: BBC, 25 March 2020 https://www.bbc.com/news/health-51963486

For Public Health Personnel

How effective is ‘favipiravir’ in treating COVID-19?

As of March 22nd, according to clinical trials, Chinese patients with COVID-19 treated with favipiravir and interferon had shorter viral shedding time at an average of 4 days when compared to patients who received Lopinavir/Ritonavir which had an average of 11 days. Moreover, the improvements in chest imaging were also better than those from the other group. Nevertheless, there were still some limitations to the study as it only had small sample size, and was a non-randomised and open-labelled trial. Although the characteristics of patients who received these 2 different kinds of drugs were statistically equivalent, there were more patients from the group receiving favipiravir that were treated right at the early stages of showing symptoms, and some of them were young, had slim body, had normal body temperature, and etc. These factors may lead to inaccuracy of the test results; therefore, the trials are still being carried out with more patients.

What are the potential drugs to treat COVID-19

There are 4 main groups of treatments including drugs that researchers are investigating in clinical trials.

  1. Anti-viral drugs, e.g. remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir
  2. Antimalarial drugs, i.e. chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine
  3. Immunosuppressor or immunomodulator, e.g. tocilizumab
  4. Mesenchymal stem cells and plasma

On April 17, 2020 National Institute of Health, US, announced that a study in animal found that remdesivir can prevent disease progress, and there are many ongoing clinical trials on this drug.

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