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Why There Isn't a Cure for COVID-19

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Laura Zabriskie

April 10, 2020
*This is a rapidly changing situation. This article was written on April 9, 2020. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC website at*

Several months into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many are asking why experts haven’t been able to find a treatment or cure for the virus. The simple answer: there’s too much they don’t know. Several months feels like a long time, but when it comes to medical research, it’s almost no time at all. COVID-19 is a novel (new) virus, which means that no one has natural immunity to it, and experts couldn’t research it prior to the outbreak in December 2019.

There are several steps that must be taken before releasing treatments to the public to ensure safety and effectiveness. If a treatment is ineffective or unsafe, it could end up doing more harm than good. There are a lot of terms being used in the medical community when trying to explain this process. These may be confusing and are sometimes used incorrectly in the media, so here is a breakdown of what some of the most commonly used terms mean in this context:

Clinical trials – Tests created to research the effectiveness of new treatments that are not yet approved by the FDA. These tests are closely monitored and controlled to ensure the safety of participants.

Sample – The group of people being researched. It’s important that the sample reflects the population being studied. With medical treatments, experts need to know how results vary across age, ethnicity, overall health, etc.

Sample size – The number of people in the sample. The larger the sample size, the more likely the results will be accurate.

Controlled environment – An environment that is strictly managed to reduce variation in an experiment or test. This helps to rule out other reasons that a result may be happening.

Aside from the lack of time, uncontrolled environments and small sample sizes pose the biggest challenge for researchers. The COVID-19 situation is changing daily and data is being collected in real-time as patients are being treated. Healthcare workers are doing the best they can to collect accurate data, but conditions change from patient to patient and they have no way of controlling or even knowing what other variables are at play.

This is why researchers can’t definitively say that newly discovered symptoms are related to COVD-19. It has been widely reported that pink eye is a symptom, but being infected with COVID-19 doesn’t mean that you can’t have other illnesses at the same time. It’s entirely possible that people showing this symptom simply have pink eye in addition to COVID-19.

Researchers are moving as quickly as they can to find a cure for this virus, but the public can’t rely on that happening right away. We need to continue practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene to stop the spread while there isn’t a vaccine or cure. This is the only effective to flatten the curve and save lives. Our healthcare professionals are working tirelessly to fight this disease, but they can’t do it alone.

*Click here for more information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)*
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