The Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed the economies of nearly all nations worldwide. It has caused almost 2 million deaths worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of cases emerging daily in all parts of the globe. Scientists and doctors are working hard to develop a vaccine for this dreadful virus to provide a protective cover to humankind. In their studies of the Coronavirus, there are many things that scientists still don’t know about the virus. For this reason, it becomes essential for the researchers to observe strict safety guidelines in laboratories as they work upon Coronavirus specimens to develop a vaccine for humankind. In this article, we will learn about six things researchers should know about Covid-19.
1. Safety of Researchers Studying Covid-19 is Paramount
Safety questions are troubling the researchers a lot. These are the frontline Corona warriors risking their health and safety for the sake of research and development of a vaccine against this dreadful virus. The Coronavirus, also called Covid-19, spread quickly and easily, whereas earlier strains of Coronavirus such as SARS and MERS did not transmit easily. They remained convinced of a few geographical areas. The primary method of spread of Coronavirus is the droplets released by the infected individual by way of sneezing. Based on the body of evidence generated by victims of Covid-19, it can be said that close contact between human beings is a primary reason for the Covid-19 surge. This leads us to a very important thing that researchers should know about Covid-19. Researchers’ lives are precious and cannot afford to make even the slightest of mistakes lest they contract this dreaded virus. Researchers should be extra vigilant when meeting any individual. They should also remain meticulous when using PPE kits and other Covid-19 protective equipment as there have been so many cases of fake Covid-19 equipment.
2. Starting With Risk Assessment
According to the CDC, it is the responsibility of all laboratories researching Covid-19 to begin by identifying all kinds of risks and working on mitigating them. This risk assessment is unique for each laboratory, depending on the specific activities performed there. All laboratories should carry out this site-specific and activity-specific risk assessment to reduce the danger of spreading the virus and the risk posed to the researchers and the staff members. This assessment is related to handling and storing virus specimens, treatment of waste generated in the laboratory, and disinfection of the surfaces and equipment used in the laboratory.
3. Safety Guidelines to be Observed by Researchers
The accidental spread of the Coronavirus from a laboratory is a possibility, especially if researchers and staff members show laxity in following safety protocols. The following are the general safety guidelines for safe research to be observed strictly by researchers.
- All researchers and staff members working in a laboratory must always wear a safety mask to cover their noses and mouths.
- All researchers coming in contact with Covid-19 must wear approved PPE kits to protect themselves from the virus. They should observe safety protocols when wearing and removing this kit after their work hours.
- Scientists involved with the study of Coronavirus must participate voluntarily in asymptomatic testing of the virus to prevent any chances of spread of the virus through them outside the laboratory.
- Researchers should refrain from coming to the laboratory if they experience any of the symptoms associated with Coronavirus.
- Suppose a researcher begins to experience Coronavirus symptoms in the laboratory. In that case, they should immediately observe a safe distance from the colleagues and take leave from the supervisor to go home and start the quarantine period.
4. Minimizing the Spread of Coronavirus While Continuing With Research
Scientists are today fully aware of how the spread of Coronavirus takes place. It has become easier for the labs involved with Coronavirus research to mitigate the risk of spreading this virus from researchers to others and from one researcher to another. Transmission of Covid-19 takes place from respiratory droplets contracted directly or by touching contaminated surfaces.
- Making researchers observe a distance of at least 2 meters between themselves.
- Posting signs to limit the number of people working in an area
- Using ropes and markers to achieve separation between human beings
- Assigning separate tables and benches or workstations to researchers
- Asking each researcher to use his own reusable PPE kit and other safety equipment
- Sanitizing all surfaces between shifts
5. Biosafety Guidelines for Researchers Handling Coronavirus Specimens
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued biosafety guidelines for researchers involved in handling and storing virus specimens. These guidelines are related to timely communication between the lab employees and proper handling of the specimens, including their labeling.
- Identification of dangers involved with the processes and procedures performed inside the laboratory
- Creation of a barrier between the researcher and the infected individual by using a PPE kit, surgical mask, face shield, surgical grade gloves, and safety cups
- Decontaminating all surfaces and the equipment used inside the laboratory with the help of an approved disinfectant
- Proper handling of waste generated from a laboratory to reduce the chances of spreading the coronavirus
6. WHO Recommendations for Biorisk Management
As vaccination against Coronavirus is in its preliminary stages, the World Health Organization understands the risks associated with the study of specimens of this dreadful virus in laboratories worldwide. The world’s premier health body has issued recommendations for bio-risk management in all such laboratories worldwide known as BSL2.
- Training of the staff for SOPs and compliance guidelines
- Adequate supplies of PPE kids, surgical masks, and gloves
- Proper training for the staff related to wearing and removal of the PPE kits.
- Adequate supplies of disinfectants for decontamination of surfaces and equipment
The body of knowledge available to the researchers continues to increase in size as scientists work on producing a vaccine to protect people worldwide. New facts are emerging about this dreadful virus with time. There are still many things about Coronavirus that researchers do not know about Covid-19. We can only hope that these unknown facts will not come in the way of researchers to produce a vaccine that is highly effective in saving the lives of people around the world.