The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) is planning to initiate a public-private partnership to develop antibody treatments against COVID-19, the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) said on Friday.
Antibody treatments, to be administered to people infected with COVID-19 and healthy individuals to provide short-term immunity, are a vital stopgap treatment until vaccines become widely available, NHRI vice president Sytwu Huey-kang (司徒惠康) said.
The institute, Academia Sinica, National Taiwan University Hospital and Chang Gung Medical Foundation last year began developing COVID-19 antibody treatments, but their efforts have largely been uncoordinated, Sytwu said.
To expedite the process, the CECC’s research division is planning to set up a platform to increase cooperation between the institutions, and promote the development of antibody treatments by local drug manufacturers, he said.
The treatments are based on the injection of antibodies that attach themselves to a specific virus, which prevents the virus from attacking cells, Sytwu said, adding that the treatment aims to limit the progression of an infection.
Many antibody treatments, such as the drug administered to US President Donald Trump last year, use a cocktail of multiple antibodies that target different parts of a virus, increasing their overall efficacy, he said.
Because antibody treatments can provide up to two months of immunity to a certain virus, they could also be administered to healthy people who are at risk of infection, for example those who need to travel abroad, before a COVID-19 vaccination is widely available, Sytwu said.
The treatments are also extremely safe and could be combined with a vaccination to offer better protection to people with a history of allergic reactions to vaccinations, he said.
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