When there’s a big national or international crisis, many of us want to do something about it.

We want to donate money, volunteer our time, wear ribbons. Some actions make a difference; some probably don’t. But doing something makes us feel, at least for a time, a bit less helpless.

The global outbreak of this new strain of coronavirus is the latest cause for concern. As it picks up steam, infecting and killing folks around the world, more and more people feel compelled to take action. With a virus, it’s clear that individual actions do make a difference. Whether you wash your hands or stay home from certain events, for example, could ultimately affect a lot of people.

It’s important to note that, especially because some studies have shown that perhaps only 5 percent of people wash their hands sufficiently to kill or remove harmful germs.

But as we consider the useful and futile ways we’re responding to the coronavirus (buying masks, not touching our faces, stocking up on food) we’d like to show appreciation for some local researchers who are actually, actively fighting this virus.

As we reported Sunday, two virologists with the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine have been working on antiviral drugs to treat MERS human coronavirus and other viruses. Their work, funded through multi-million-dollar National Institutes of Health grants, extends to similar viruses including the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The K-State virologists, Yungeong Kim and Kyeong-Ok “KC” Chang, have been working with a chemist at Wichita State and recently signed a new license agreement between K-State and a pharmaceutical company, Cocrystal Pharma Inc., which will research and develop the researchers’ antiviral compounds.

No antiviral drugs are yet available for human norovirus or coronaviruses, but the hope is that eventually these compounds could lead to effective drugs that will be available to the public.

There’s no telling how long that process could take or whether it will be successful, but we’re proud to see that some brilliant scientists in our very own city are developing drugs to battle the coronavirus and other harmful diseases.

The rest of us will have to be content to keep our hands clean.

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