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COVID-19 Response

Stay Safe — Be Prepared

Aerial view of people gathered on concrete, one apart from the crowd
Aerial view of people gathered on concrete, one apart from the crowd

Self-isolation and social distancing are not easy for any one of us — but it is a necessary sacrifice for the greater good, and for the health of your family and our community. We all want our healthcare system to be available to us and those we care about when we need medical care.

Currently, in Canada and in most areas around the world, the virus continues to spread — flattening the upward curve of infection rates requires everyone’s participation.1

Vaccines are in development

More than 30 companies and academic institutions are currently in the process of working to come up with a vaccine — this is crucial since vaccination is the only means of preventing infection. While vaccine development is a lengthy process, typically taking many years, there is reason for optimism.

Research groups working to develop a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 have a good start in the process, thanks to efforts of the Chinese early in the course of the pandemic to sequence the genetic material — information that has since been shared around the world.

The fact that the last two pandemics in the past 20 years have been due to coronaviruses may also facilitate development of a vaccine. The coronavirus virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, shares between 80% to 90% of its genetic material with the coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that started in China in 2002–2004. Another coronavirus was responsible for the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) epidemic that emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

As explained in detail in a recent article in The Guardian, both of those outbreaks were contained when scientists were still working on creating a vaccine, so the research was put aside. Now some researchers are building on those early steps to develop vaccines that will protect against COVID-19. Like many vaccines, they are designed to do this by training the immune system to produce antibodies that recognize and block the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to enter human cells.2

Several of these candidate vaccines are already being tested for their safety in animals, and at least one is in a simultaneous phase 1 (safety) trials in humans, according to a March 18 report in Nature: “In a non-emergency situation you might do this in a more serial way, but in this case a lot of things are being done in parallel,” says Barney Graham, deputy-director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH is sponsoring one of these vaccine trials.3

While these are early days in a quickly evolving global situation, we can take heart in the quick response of scientists and medical experts, supported by the institutions and businesses that employ them.

Be part of the solution

Until we have a vaccine developed, we can all contribute by doing our part to avoid spreading the virus.

  • Understand what you need to do to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
  • Wash your hands well and often, and avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands to keep the virus out of your system.
  • Be aware that the virus can be spread by infected people days or even weeks before they have symptoms, if they develop any — that is why we all need to practice safety precautions, even when we feel well.1 

Concerned about symptoms?

  • Symptoms can range from very mild, cold-like symptoms — runny nose, congestion, sore throat — to the more flu-like symptoms that mark the disease.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada strongly urges anyone who has symptoms – including a fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat, or difficulty breathing — to completely self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Use the online self-assessment tool to help you decide if further assessment is needed — we should all avoid overwhelming our healthcare services unless we believe we need to be hospitalized.4

Did you know?

  • A solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water will disinfect surfaces.
  • People are unlikely to be infected with the virus through food — from the grocery store or your kitch
  • en — just follow the usual hygiene measures.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that pets or other animals play a role in transmitting the disease to humans. And our pets offer us comfort and help us stay positive, so cuddle up!4
  • Looking for more coronavirus resources? Visit Vaccines411.

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances


  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/30/coronavirus-vaccine-when-will-it-be-ready
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00798-8
  4. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html
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