Since the beginning of winter last year millions of people have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and there has been a significant number of fatalities.
Unfortunately pandemic is still going on to this day however there is a light at the end of the tunnel and as time goes by it is becoming more and brighter.
So what will help us get out of this difficult situation and go back to our normal lives I hear you ask? The answer is simple - science.
Fortunately, we live in the 21st-century; in a time when science and technology have made significant progress which means that we can study the virus, understand how it works, and subsequently, eradicate it at record speed.
Scientists have figured out what exactly the novel coronavirus is, how it is transmitted from one human to another and what we need to do to prevent it. If we follow the science then at some point in the future this virus will undoubtedly be subdued.
So let’s see exactly how science will enable us to overcome one of the biggest disasters in recent history.
The speed of the response.
One way in which the response of the scientists has been spectacular when it comes to the novel coronavirus is the speed with which they acted. Within just a few weeks after the first coronavirus case was reported scientists were able to identify the new virus which was responsible for it. Not only did they identify it, but they also sequenced the entire genome of the virus.
Back when there were only a few hundred cases in the entire world scientists already knew how contagious this disease was exactly and in what manner it was transmitted from one person to another.
Medical professionals were putting out one report after the other describing in detail various stages of this disease. They were addressing both asymptomatic cases and those cases in which the symptoms were clearly manifested.
Scientists were also talking about the complications of the virus that could appear in the most severe cases. So just in a couple of months after the disease first raised its ugly head scientist already knew what the 'best practices' human society had to follow were in order to avoid the spread of the disease.
Unfortunately, many people failed to take this disease seriously from the beginning which facilitated its spread. However, without the important work the scientist conducted at such rapid speed the situation would have been much worse, and many more people would have died.
The next step for scientists was finding appropriate drugs and therapeutics to aid with recovery from COVID-19. In order to find appropriate drugs multiple clinical trials were conducted and some of them have been successful.
Other than finding the best medicine, scientists also looked into blood therapy which included plasma therapy from those patients who had already recovered from COVID-19 and had virus-fighting antibodies in their bloodstream.
The healthcare industry and thousands of medical professionals pulled together to combat this disease and to this day they use the full force of their knowledge and all of their resources to keep the population safe and healthy. However, even the best scientists cannot get rid of this virus all by themselves. The population also has to play its part, act responsibly, and heed the advice of medical professionals in order to avoid catching the virus or spreading it to other people.
From the very beginning, scientists have been telling us to remain in our house and not to go out unless we have some essential business to attend to. If we do need to make a trip outside we must make sure that we keep our social distance and do not come into close contact with other people and if we do we must not touch our face since it has multiple entry points through which the virus could penetrate our body. And of course, it is essential to wear a high-quality mask to prevent the droplets from spreading through the air.
The scientists also advise us to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and disinfect our hands as often as possible for example after touching possibly contaminated surfaces such as door handles, bags, money, etc.
Once we enter our homes it is essential to go straight into the bathroom and wash our hands for at least 20 seconds with soap. Only if we all comply with these recommendations will the coronavirus be defeated.
How previously conducted research helped scientists.
The daily lives of scientists are preoccupied with studying the natural environment whether there is a pandemic or not. And this is precisely what they were doing even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe.
Curiosity-driven research conducted in the decades before has paid off. For example, before COVID-19 they were already studying the population dynamics of bats which enabled us to understand how the disease can be transmitted from an animal to a human being. COVID-19 was one of such diseases and when it appeared the nature of its transmission wasn’t a mystery to scientists.
A scientific project which began in 1990 and is called 'the human genome project' was concerned with widespread DNA sequencing. The information unearthed by the project enabled contemporary scientists to understand how the COVID-19 virus is evolving.
However, medical science isn’t the only one involved in managing this pandemic. It is also important to study the social and anthropological structures of different cultures in order to understand how various populations are responding to the strict measures taken by their governments for the protection of their citizens.
This important work is conducted by behavioral psychologists who study isolation and human interaction and the effect they have on our mental state.
And last but not least, the creation of the coronavirus vaccines that can eradicate this virus would not be possible without the science of immunology which is based on centuries of study of our immune system and how it responds to different pathogens.
This monumental research conducted by dozens of scientists throughout the decades has enabled the scientists of today to come up with effective vaccines.
In general clinical professionals as well as policymakers are greatly influenced by the existing research conducted by evolutionarily virologists, biophysicists, disease ecologists, and many other types of scientists across multiple fields of inquiry.
And this is how science has always worked. The information that scientists uncover today may turn out to be extremely useful to us many years down the line. This is why it is absolutely essential to conduct foundational research and investigate as many nooks and crannies of this planet as we can whenever we can.
If scientists many decades ago hadn’t conducted research in many different disciplines the scientists today wouldn’t have had enough information to combat COVID-19 as effectively and as quickly as they did.
Pushing the limits of what’s physically possible.
Scientists in various fields are constantly trying to push the limits and find out what else is possible for human beings to do.
Scientists are trying to expand their knowledge and among other things find out what types of properties energy and matter have. They are also observing various physical phenomena that might occur when the temperature gets close to absolute zero. Scientists concerned with chemical-based life are looking into how biochemical processes can play an important role in our everyday lives. And last but not least scientists concerned with astrophysical phenomena want to uncover the secrets of the Universe and possibly discover extreme states of matter.
When any type of global crisis occurs these types of inquiries are frequently treated as though they are disposable and unnecessary. But this approach is not beneficial for humanity since disposing of these curiosity-based inquiries will limit whatever we would be able to build upon them in the future. For example, if scientists didn’t have the atomic theory as their foundation they wouldn’t be able to uncover the DNA sequences of infectious pathogens which include of course COVID-19.
Also, particle physicists were able to uncover information that is used by physicians today in treating cancer patients. Scientists who worked in the field of quantum physics are to be thanked for their contribution in creating an X-ray machine which is a very useful diagnostic tool nowadays.
Needless to say, all of the aforementioned objects and phenomena make our lives easier and some of them even have a direct impact on the human lifespan but none of them would be possible if scientists had not endeavored to study the world around them.
COVID-19 may be the most devastating disease in recent memory but there is no guarantee that it will be the last one we will face. If we want to be equipped with superior tools and techniques to face the threats in several decades then we need to commit to and invest in scientific research. And this does not just mean investing in studying the specific medical situations that face us, but it means investing in curiosity-driven research in general.
Research is the only way to obtain a piece of very valuable information that is bound to pay off in one way or another in the near or distant future.