A CHINESE laboratory is developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt.
A study published on the research team’s scientific journal ‘Cell’ said the drug is being tested by scientists at China’s prestigious Peking University.
According to the report, not only could the drug shorten the recovery time for those infected, but it can even offer short-term immunity from the virus.
Director of University of Beijing’s Advanced Innovation Centre for Genomics, Sunney Xie, said that the drug has been successful at the animal testing stage.
“When we injected neutralising antibodies into infected mice, after five days, the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500. That means this potential drug has (a) therapeutic effect,” said Xie.
Xie further explained that his team had been working “day and night” searching for the antibody.
“Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology. When we realised that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralising antibody we were thrilled. Planning for the clinical trial is underway. It will be carried out in Australia and other countries since cases have dwindled in China, offering fewer human guinea pigs for testing. The drug should be ready for use later this year and in time for any potential winter outbreak of the virus, which has infected 4.8 million people around the world and killed more than 315,000. The hope is these neutralised antibodies can become a specialised drug that would stop the pandemic. We would be able to stop the pandemic with an effective drug, even without a vaccine,” he added.
China already has been working on five potential coronavirus vaccines at the human trial stage since outbreak first emerged in China late last year before spreading across the world, a health official said last week.
But the World Health Organisation has warned that developing a vaccine could take 12 to 18 months.
In another development, President Donald Trump yesterday surprisingly revealed that he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that his own government experts say is not suitable for fighting the novel coronavirus.
According to him, he has tested negative for the virus and shows no symptoms, said he’d been taking the drug “for about a week and a half.”
“I take a pill every day,” he said, adding that he also takes zinc as a preventative measure. Because I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories. You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers before you catch it. The front-line workers — many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it, I happen to be taking it. I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine, right now, yeah. A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it,” he said.