Opinion: Research is our best weapon against virus

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft. This pandemic is frightening for many people – especially those at the highest risk – and the need for effective prevention and treatment is pressing. Clearly, that means recognising that some seemingly sensible interventions may not produce the intended effects. All of medicine is a bit uncertain (unlike maths, where proof is immutable). And on that basis, we simply don’t know if vitamin D, for example, will help with Covid-19 (although all UK residents get a recommendation either to take or consider taking vitamin D the evidence for benefit iseither absent or small with the exception of asthma). ____________________________________________________ More on coronavirus: ____________________________________________________As far as hydroxychloroquine goes, initial trials of this drug – which is typically used to prevent malaria (and has been promoted by Donald Trump as a possible cure for all things Covid-19) – were initially of poor quality, tiny, and with no control groups. It’s also clear that hydroxychloroquine has cardiac side-effects, a fact that needs care in monitoring.Thereis nosuch thing as an intervention that is free of side-effects. Related: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public - Myth busters by WHO (Photos) While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death. The best way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is to keep at least 1 metre away from others and to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. It is also beneficial for your general health to maintain a balanced diet, stay well hydrated, exercise regularly and sleep well. The virus that cause COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first. Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems. Remember to keep chlorine (bleach) and other disinfectants out of reach of children. Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are sometimes used in cleaning products to kill the virus on surfaces – however you should never drink them. Make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by maintaining physical distance of at least 1 metre from others and frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. Bydoing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer. Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus. To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). WHO ishelping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners. Some research papers insist it does – offering reasons as to why fabric will stop the passage of viral particles from the mouth and nose. Hazards for some may be accepted if there are outweighing benefits foreveryone– but,whenthe evidence is so slender, we need rational deliberation. Would policymakers assume face coverings work, and make decisions on, for instance, encouraging the use of public transport on this basis without high-quality evidence to tell us this is safe? I would argue thatbecause it is a global pandemic, we need good, rapid research even more: the results will be applicable to far more people than usual when a drug or potential preventive measure istested,hence the need to get better evidence for everyone. We could do fast, pragmatic, real-world studies, supplying masks to a geographical area with encouragement and instruction on use, and monitor for comparative changes in infection rates, together with carrying out field studies to observe people’s behaviour. The World Health Organization has made it clear that we need research duringpandemics (and drug trials have got off to an amazingly fast start), but this needs to hold true for things like face coverings too. This could be a turning point: where we take the uncertainty we are facing and, rather than assuming that our interventions will work, everyone – citizens, patients, researchers and healthcare staff – comes together to reduce it.