BOSTON — A local researcher tracking the COVID-19 outbreak says it may be a while before the virus slows down and he's calling for funding of any vaccine or scientific proposal to combat the coronavirus.
“Our data suggests that this coronavirus is mutating rapidly, spreading rapidly and with no end in sight,” Dr. Samuel Bogoch said. “And it doesn't show any evidence of ceasing gradually at this time, unfortunately.”
If you were looking for promising news about the COVID-19 pandemic, it won't come from Dr. Bogoch, a former Boston University professor who studies outbreak activity by signals within the virus.
Bogoch says the determinant of an outbreak's course lies in what he calls replikins. If you look at a picture of a virus responsible for a past pandemic, the H1N1 strain of the flu, you can see areas in blue that represent, over time, that virus essentially ramping up for its attack.
Those blue areas give what Bogoch calls the 'replicant count.'
When it's going up, it means the virus is gearing up and, in the case of COVID-19, Bogoch is seeing an unprecedented rise.
“What we have seen is the rate of five-fold increase in replicant count in three-month period,” he explained. “I have never seen that before.”
Bogoch is looking for signs of a slowdown somewhere, but so far, every indication indicates a prolonged pandemic.
“So, I think we are facing an unattractive prospect,” he said. “And we must try every proposal for a vaccine. Which is handed to us.”
Two vaccine candidates are about to enter human trials. Dozens of others are in development. But it could take 18 months to get one to market.
A faster option, Bogoch says, is a synthetic vaccine like the one developed by his small company, Replikins.
He's looking for partners to help fund his proposal but says every proposal that needs funding should get it because only science can save us.
“If we don’t use that science, we’ve got nothing going against the current pandemic,” Bogoch said.
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