Women on the front line of Covid-19 fight

SINGAPORE - She is not just an infectious diseases doctor, but also the leader of one of the latest clinical trials of a Covid-19 antibody to treat patients with the virus.

Dr Shirin Kalimuddin, a consultant with the Department of Infectious Diseases at Singapore General Hospital, is the principal investigator of a clinical trial of a monoclonal antibody.

The monoclonal antibody will block the Sars-CoV-2 virus from gaining entry into cells.

Dr Shirin says: "I am hopeful that this trial will be able to contribute in some way to finding an effective treatment for Covid-19.

"As there has been no effective treatment for the virus so far, this antibody could be used to treat patients with Covid-19 if proven to be effective."

The trial, which is run by SingHealth's Investigational Medicine Unit, began last month after around four months of preparation. The antibody is being trialled on healthy volunteers, and the trial is currently in the first phase of three.

As a principal investigator, Dr Shirin, 39, oversees the entire research process, from recruiting volunteers to seeing patients to monitoring them and analysing data.

She also conducts research to study how one's immune system responds to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and saw patients with Covid-19 in the past year.

The demands of working on the front line have taken a toll on the mother of two daughters aged six and nine, who worked up to 12 hours a day during the peak of the pandemic.

Dr Shirin, whose husband is an orthopaedic doctor, says: "When my younger daughter was in kindergarten last year, I wasn't able to attend her school performances, even the ones on Zoom.

"I felt a little guilty missing out, but for the ones I can attend, I make sure that I am fully there and present."

She says her hope for International Women's Day next Monday is for women to be given more opportunities to realise their full potential.

"I hope people realise that in the workplace, women are not one-dimensional but multifaceted, so different women will have different talents and skills.

"Their opinions carry worth, and should be valued and respected."