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Coronavirus pandemic | Novartis CEO warns of second COVID-19 wave

While the pace of new infections is likely to slow down in Italy and Spain, a massive surge in numbers is expected in the United States, Vasant Narasimhan said

March 30, 2020 / 01:57 PM IST
Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan (Image: Reuters)

Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan (Image: Reuters)


Novartis Chief Executive Officer Vasant Narasimhan has predicted that a second wave of the novel coronavirus will sweep the world. Speaking to Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung, he said the first global outbreak of the deadly pandemic is likely to end in a few months.

The Indian-American physician warned that pandemics come in waves, which is why it is important to keep testing suspected cases and collecting data, reported the Live Mint quoting a Bloomberg report.

His comments came as the number of COVID-19 positive cases across the world breached the 7,00,000 mark. While the pace of new infections is likely to slow down in Italy and Spain – both of which have possibly reached their peak — a massive surge in numbers is expected in the United States, said Narasimhan.

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Novartis is currently taking in requests and offering its premises to multiple companies that are looking at fast-tracking the production of medication to fight the novel coronavirus.

The company was looking at restructuring itself by downsizing, but that plan has been put on hold for now and Narasimhan has also assured that there would not be any pandemic-related firings.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Meanwhile, the authorities in several Asian countries – where the numbers seemed to have dwindled momentarily – have begun bracing for the second wave of novel coronavirus infections. In China, for instance, the number of COVID-19 positive cases began rising again with the laxation of strict lockdowns that had been imposed. Several of the new cases are reportedly “imported cases” and not domestic.
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first published: Mar 30, 2020 01:57 pm
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