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Understanding the Novel Coronavirus & Vaccine Development Updated: 2020-09-02 15:35:19 KST

The entire world has been battling a novel virus dubbed Covid-19 for the last seven, eights months.
The way we live, we work, we learn, we interact with one another have seen dramatic changes.
Yet, there hasn't been a let up. In fact, the number of Covid-19 cases worldwide has well topped 25 million, South Korea - once praised for the quick and effective response at curbing its earlier outbreak - is battling another wave with total caseload having surpassed 200-thousand.
That is all the more reason why nations around the world have been racing for a Covid-19 vaccine, some rushing through key clinical trials and cutting short trial period.

Covid-19 and vaccine development: Where we are and the obstacles that stand in the way.
It's the topic of our News In-depth tonight - in the studio with us is Dr. David KWAK, Physician at Soonchunhyang University Hospital and later on the show, Dr. Ogan Gurel joins us via Skype.

First, Dr. Kwak, welcome to the show.

South Korea has been seeing a steady rise in Covid-19 cases - triple digit jump for more than two weeks now. What's even more alarming is that for the first time, we're seeing more than one hundred patients who are seriously to critically ill.
Now, after a patient is confirmed with COVID-19, each case is then classified based on severity into four groups: mild, moderate, severe, and extremely severe.
Depending on the classificiation, patients are admitted and treated accordingly.
Can you first help us understand the different levels of severity?

How do the different severity groups impact the health care system?

LSK Global Pharma Services said that it would conduct the phase 3 clinical trial of Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, in Bangladesh.
What's interesting about this clinical trial is that the subjects for the clinical trials are frontline healthcare workers to reduce secondary infections.
With how exposed healthcare workers are to transmission of the virus, how do you see this approach of conducting a clinical trial?

For some more perspective, let's now turn to Dr. Ogan Gurel, medical doctor, visiting professor at DGIST and Solbridge and Chief Strategy Officer at CT Cells. He joins us online.
Dr. Gurel, good to see you again.

As the world continues the race to find a vaccine to end this pandemic, it's always essential to understand the virus itself first.
What are some important recent developments in our understanding of the virus?

Given these developments, what are the implications for a possible vaccine for Covid-19?

If it is true that a long-term immune response is not possible, do you think people should be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a matter of public health?

Dr. Ogan Gurel, many thanks for sharing your insights with us. We appreciate it.

In lieu of waiting for a cure-all vaccine that can treat or prevent all phases of the coronavirus, and if vaccine researchers were to take a strategic approach, would it make more sense to target the the mild cases or the most severe?

Head of KCDC Jung Eun-kyung had forecasted the possibility of 800 to two thousand new daily cases this week. (We have not reached those numbers yet this week)
Will the most recent enforcement of level 2.5 social distancing prevent us from reaching such numbers? And is the cooling change of seasons going to factor in at all?

Dr. David KWAK, Physician at Soonchunhyang University Hospital, many thanks for your insights this evening. We appreciate it.
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