Dear Editor Solomon (SB) Herald,
Late this afternoon, Wednesday, the Solomon Islands declared a State of Emergency as the country heightens its response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The Solomon Islands has no confirmed cases of coronavirus but currently three suspected samples are awaiting test results.
The State of Emergency declaration was announced nationally by the Governor-General, Sir David Vunagi, GCMG.
Immediately after the declaration on state radio the Attorney General, John Muria Junior, told the country the state of emergency was not the same as a lockdown despite what was being shared on social media.
“I also urge and reiterate that government’s call for us to remain calm and not to panic,” Mr Muria said.
I can fully understand the anxiety there is in the Solomon Islands over the possible intrusion of coronavirus, despite the sterling efforts of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in carrying out border control measures aimed at detection and prevention.
Because of the level anxiety that prevails, I scour the international media daily in the hope of finding any news that could offer a glimpse of hope as to the development of a vaccine that could put an end to the ongoing worry.
Two rather encouraging reports surfaced today, one from Canada and the other nearer to home in Australia.
I would like to share both reports with you, and I quote:
“A team of Canadian scientists has successfully isolated and grown copies of the coronavirus — bringing the world a step closer to finding a vaccine to fight the deadly illness.
“Researchers from the Sunnybrook Research Institute, the University of Toronto, and McMaster University were able to isolate and replicate the virus in a lab using samples taken from two Canadian patients.
“The lab-grown copies will now be able to help scientists study the pathogen to develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, vaccines, and gain a better understanding of its biology,.
“Now that we have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus [the agent responsible for COVID-19], we can share this with other researchers and continue this teamwork,” Dr. Arinjay Banerjee, NSERC post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University, said.
“The more viruses that are made available in this way, the more we can learn, collaborate and share.”
“A team of Melbourne scientists believe they’ve discovered how the human body overcomes the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“The team of Doherty Institute researchers has, for the first time, mapped the way a patient’s immune system responds to the virus.
“It’s hoped the world-first breakthrough will fast-track treatments and vaccines, and help determine those at risk of dying from the virus.
“Researchers have also found healthy people can expect to fight off the virus in just three days.
“Laboratory head at the Doherty Institute and The University of Melbourne Professor Katherine Kedzierska explained they were looking at how the immune system responds to the novel corona virus in one of Australia’s first cases.
“The patient had mild to moderate symptoms.
“What we found was that even the COVID-19 is caused by a new virus in an otherwise healthy person, we can mount a robust immune response across different cell types,” she told Neil Mitchell.
“She said they still have a way to go before they understand why the coronavirus is severe and deadly in some cases, such as the elderly.
“Professor Kedzierska said the findings inform the design of possible vaccines, drugs and therapeutics to provide protection from the coronavirus.
The researchers found the body fights the infection the same way as the flu.
“Yes, it’s very exciting to see how we can repeat the immunity to the novel coronavirus,” she said.
“The next step is to repeat the findings in a larger number of COVID-19 cases and to understand how some groups are really susceptible to the virus.”
“It comes as the first human trial of a vaccine for COVID-19 begins in the US.
“It’s not the first major coronavirus breakthrough made by Doherty Institute researchers, who were also the first in the world to successfully grow the coronavirus in cell culture from a patient sample.
“Meanwhile another report gleaned from the internet said, quote:
“We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic,” Dr. Samira Mubareka, microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook, added.
“While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus.”
“Eight institutes in China are working on five approaches to inoculations in an effort to combat COVID-19. Chinese officials say it could result in a vaccine ready for emergency situations and clinical trials next month.”