Innovations led humanity to where we are today. New solutions revolutionized our history and transformed our world in the past. From the invention of the wheel in 3500 BC to the Arpanet—the basis for the internet we know today—people have always felt the need to discover new things and aid the progress. But today, we are forced to adjust to the new circumstances. Creative thinking evolved too, and now we can lean on technology to help us innovate. Our world is still evolving, and all aspects of humanity are changing.
So far, we’ve fixed many problems thanks to scientific breakthroughs that changed all industries for the better, including healthcare. Immunotherapy, robotic surgery, and aortic valve replacement are only some of the things we’ve invented to make lives easier and increase our life expectancy. But healthcare doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there.
2020 brought new challenges for humanity, and where there’s a challenge, there’s growth. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the need for healthcare innovations even further. We can’t rely on face-to-face checkups at the doctor due to the risk of infection. We don’t know when the vaccine will be invented. We are facing many mental health issues as well while surviving lockdown. Maybe the most important thing is that there will be consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. People might have to change how they approach current healthcare solutions.
For example, statistics say that telehealth will remain a great way of dealing with health problems without being exposed to any risks. And it’s an excellent option for many. What are some other healthcare innovations that we’ll have to rely on in the future after the pandemic is over?
RNA Vaccines Became a Possibility
Throughout history, humanity has managed to wipe off many diseases with one of the most powerful tools—a vaccine. In 1796, Edward Jenner, the father of vaccinology, successfully treated a 13-year-old boy with what’s believed to be the first vaccine. He proved that training the immune system of an individual to recognize and fight pathogens is possible. Only two years later, in 1798, the smallpox vaccine was invented. 1979 marked the year when smallpox was eradicated globally.
Smallpox wasn’t the only disease we’ve successfully become immune to thanks to vaccination. We’ve also beaten cholera, plague, diphtheria, polio, and rabies with the help of vaccines.
The vaccine became the only thing that can help us regain control and fight against diseases and viruses, such as COVID-19. Still, there are some things that we can do to improve the process when it comes to vaccine development.
With current vaccines, we can’t speed up the vaccine development process, which consists of four phases:
- Phase one: making the vaccine, animal testing, and safety testing in a small number of people.
- Phase two: safety and efficacy testing in a medium number of people.
- Phase three: safety and efficacy testing in a large number of people.
- Phase four: approval, manufacturing, and registration of the vaccine in each country.
It may seem simple, but all these phases combined can take up to five years to see the light of day.
Since the way COVID-19 works confuses scientists worldwide, we need a new, faster approach to developing the vaccine. The way a new RNA vaccine can be produced can change this.
An RNA vaccine is a novel type of vaccine that’s different from traditional vaccines. Traditional vaccines contain small amounts of the disease in them to help teach the immune system to become more resistant. The RNA vaccine gives the body a needed genetic code to produce proteins and fragments of the specific disease on its own and learn to attack them.
RNA vaccines are faster to make and cheaper than traditional ones. Their production is laboratory-based, which means that once they’re standardized, they can be used for quicker responses to epidemics and pandemics in the future.
Benefits of RNA vaccine:
- RNA vaccines are non-infectious. That means there aren’t any pathogen particles, it does not integrate itself into the genome, and the RNA strand from the vaccine is destroyed once the protein is created.
- Early clinical trials indicate that the RNA vaccines are well-tolerated and enable a strong immune response with few side effects.
- The process of production can be standardized, meaning that it can be faster.
If we take all these benefits of an RNA vaccine into consideration, it’s almost certain that the way vaccines are made today will soon become part of the past.
Applications of AI in Medicine and Healthcare
We’ve lived to witness a remarkable technological breakthrough—humans teaching the machine how to think. Even better, we’ve lived to see the machine think, evaluate, and provide results that can help humans make decisions.
Artificial intelligence refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines. The machines are programmed to think and act as humans would. The perfectly created AI can use the data to rationalize and take actions that lead to the best possible outcome or a specific goal.
It’s no wonder that AI found its place in many industries, including healthcare. But how can it be beneficial during the pandemic? AI is currently used in three fields: in virus research and drug and vaccine development, as the tool for service management at healthcare centers, and as the tool for data analysis to help people determine the scope of safety measures.
Guest Post by Dusan Goljic, pharmacist and a writer at Supplements101.