BioScience Trends. 2021;15(2):126-128. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2021.01092)

New challenges to fighting COVID-19: Virus variants, potential vaccines, and development of antivirals

Chen J, Lu H


Despite strict control measures implemented worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. Several drugs, including lopinavir/ritonavir, hydroxychloroquine, dexamethasone, and remdesivir, have been evaluated for the treatment of COVID-19 during the past year. While most of the drugs failed to display efficacy in treating COVID-19, scientists have encouraged herd immunity to control the pandemic. Immunity generated after natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 is precarious, as indicated by real-world evidence in the form of epidemiological data from Manaus, Brazil. Vaccines using different platforms are therefore the most promising approach to help us return to normality. Although several vaccines have been authorized for emergency use, there are still many concerns regarding their accessibility, the vaccination rate, and most importantly, their efficacy in preventing infection with emerging virus variants. Continued virus surveillance and rapid redesign of new vaccines to counter new variants are crucial to fighting COVID-19. Rapid production and extensive vaccination are also essential to preventing the emergence of new variants. Nevertheless, antivirals including monoclonal antibodies and oral medicines need to be developed in light of uncertainties with regard to vaccination. In the battle between humans and SARS-CoV-2, the speed with which we fight the virus, and especially its emerging variants, is the key to winning.

KEYWORDS: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, vaccine, variants

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