Researchers have identified an antioxidant in locally grown black tea leaves as a potential inhibitor of protease activity in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Chiayi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital said on Wednesday.
A research team led by Wu Ching-yuan (吳清源), head of the hospital’s Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, used a computer program to identify potential antiviral components in traditional plants, the hospital said in a statement.
Theaflavin, a polyphenolic compound, shows broad-spectrum antiviral activity against several viruses and could be used as a lead compound for the development of a SARS-CoV-2 inhibitor to target the DNA-directed ribonucleic acid (RNA) polymerase (RdRp) enzyme.
Photo copied by Lin I-chang, Taipei Times
In coronaviruses, RdRp catalyzes the replication of RNA from a template, making it an attractive candidate to help develop a treatment, Wu said.
RdRp in SARS-CoV-2 is also a primary target for the antiviral remdesivir, which the WHO has called the most promising drug available for the treatment of COVID-19, he said.
Remdesivir works by inhibiting RdRp, which many RNA viruses — including coronaviruses — use to replicate themselves.
The antiviral effects of theaflavin are similar to those of remdesivir, Wu said.
However, the exact in vivo effect is still unclear, and further research is needed to confirm the mechanism whereby theaflavin targets SARS-CoV-2, Wu said.
The findings were published by the American Society for Microbiology in the Journal of Medical Virology on March 13, the hospital said.
In other news, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Thursday said that quinoline antimalarial drugs, which have been discussed as a possible treatment for COVID-19, are produced in Taiwan and could be made available if testing proves them to be effective against the novel coronavirus.
In a small French study, doctors used a drug in the quinoline family — hydroxychloroquine — to reduce the duration and severity of COVID-19 symptoms in people with mild cases, said Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), convener of the center’s expert advisory panel.
If properly tested and approved, a process that normally takes 12 to 18 months, the drug could conceivably reduce the burden on medical resources such as quarantine facilities, Chang said.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that there is one manufacturer of quinoline drugs in Taiwan.
If the treatment were proved to be viable, the government’s first priority would be to guarantee domestic supply, Chen said.
The government could participate in the distribution of the drug on the precondition of not harming the manufacturer’s commercial interests, Chen said.
Internationally, drug distribution rights could be used diplomatically to build ties with international partners to address shortages amid the pandemic, he said.
Drugs that have been touted as potentially effective against COVID-19 have become the subject of heated competition in the past few weeks as governments scramble to combat the disease.
Remdesivir is being used on a trial basis in Taiwan and has reduced fevers in the three COVID-19 patients who have been treated with it, although its effect on overall recovery time is still being studied, Chang said.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is seeking to join an Indo-Pacific economic framework being planned by the US, a senior official said. The government is paying close attention to the regional economic pact being touted by US President Joe Biden, although too few details have emerged from Washington for Taipei to make specific plans, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The US is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific economic framework next month after negotiations with Australia, India and Japan, the official said. The economic initiative is to tackle trade facilitation, standards for the digital economy and technology, supply-chain resiliency and
PIVOTAL ROLE: Taiwan’s importance in the global chip supply chain can be bolstered by domestic equipment manufacturing, President Tsai Ing-wen said Efforts must be made to better secure Taiwan’s place in the global supply chain by localizing production of equipment and facilities used by the semiconductor industry, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. Tsai discussed the issue during a meeting with representatives from the Taiwan Electronic Equipment Industry Association at the Presidential Office in Taipei. Product shortages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly of automotive chips — highlighted the pivotal role of Taiwan in the global supply chain, she said. Tsai thanked the association for cooperating with the government on the shared goal of localizing production of important semiconductor industry equipment.
‘NEW YEAR GIFT’: While the MAC called the song propaganda, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that it addressed the homesickness of ‘Taiwanese compatriots’ A pro-unification pop song aired on Chinese television earlier this month would only further sour Taiwanese sentiment toward China, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said on Wednesday. The music video for We Sing the Same Song (我們同唱一首歌), which aired on China Central Television, features Chinese artists performing alongside Taiwanese singers Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰), Ouyang Nana (歐陽娜娜) and Chen Li-nong (陳立農). The lyrics were reportedly written by Taiwanese lyricist Vincent Fang (方文山), known for his collaborations with Jay Chou (周杰倫), to music composed by a Chinese musician. Sung in Chinese and Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), the song is about three Taiwanese siblings who
SEPARATE CASE? A woman tested positive when she went with her daughter to be tested, because her daughter had taken the same bus to school as a steakhouse worker The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 10 local COVID-19 cases, six of whom had visited a steakhouse in Taoyuan where an infection cluster has been reported. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that of the 10 local infections, one case — No. 17,928 — is a Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport disease prevention staffer who works in the area where inbound travelers collect their saliva for a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and sometimes at the fever screening station. The staffer had tested negative in a PCR test on Jan. 9 and