Fighting the coronavirus outbreak with genetic sequencing, CRISPR and synthetic biology

Kostas Vavitsas:

Situation is concerning, but humanity is not at risk

The Covid-19 outbreak has rightly gained the attention of health authorities and the media. If the virus were to reach countries with weaker healthcare systems than China’s, the number of deaths will rise significantly and containment will be even harder. Moreover, the long incubation time of the disease, combined with the asymptomatic spread, make quarantine and isolation measures less effective. The biggest risk is for the new coronavirus to become endemic in certain areas, where the disease is never truly extinct and displays seasonal outbreaks. We don’t want the Covid-19 to become a new flu.

The health authorities of 2020, the biotech industry, and the society in general are better prepared for a coronavirus outbreak than a few years ago. The situation is less risky than MERS and SARS, though the new virus is harder to contain. This outbreak offers a chance for everyone to become more aware of viral infections, the appropriate precautions and get vaccinated according to the official recommendations. And keep in mind that the best way to stay informed is through official sources, such as the WHO and the CDC.

As for the biotech industry, are they playing their part? The answer is a partial yes; there are several companies that immediately scrambled to help the situation. But the big players within the field could be doing more.