Novel COVID-19 (COrona VIrus Disease 2019) is an emergent infectious disease with a still-unknown origin. It is a RNA virus that shares 96% of its genome with a bat-species coronavirus. Because it is an airborne RNA virus, it can achieve rapid transmission and cannot be killed with antibiotics; therefore, there is a large amount of data-mining and clinical research being undertaken in order to prevent it from becoming a deadly pandemic.
There is a lot of analysis out there about different layers of the virus from a top-down, healthcare perspective. Most of the analysis here will be presented from a bottom-up, innovation perspective across 3 layers:
Current methodology of diagnosing COVID-19 mainly centres on PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) using a DNA swab. This method is error-prone and has produced many false negatives. New, expanded procedures include a CT Scan on the lungs. Combined with PCR, a 93% diagnostics rate was achieved in one Chinese hospital. But further diagnostics innovation is needed to both understand COVID-19’s scale and mitigate the risks.
From what we know today, COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus. Early-stage symptoms are more synoynmous with the flu, while progression of the virus can lead to more pneumonia-like symptoms. Transmission risk is seen primarily via respiratory means (coughing, sneezing, etc.) in public spaces. In this vein, telehealth could play an extremely important role in diagnosis, treatment and surveillance of the corona virus.
It’s likely that there is no vaccine on the horizon short-term for COVID-19. Given the severity of symptoms in some cases, there is a rush to find the ‘antidote.’ In the interim, experimental antivirals like Remdesivir (Gilead) and Chloroquine have been used to treat patients with moderate/severe symptoms. But given the scale of the pandemic, much more innovation will need to come to both develop and supply the necessary treatments.