A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to a halt.
A drug being tested by scientists at Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the coronavirus, researchers said.
Sunney Xie (謝曉亮), director of the university’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, said that the drug had been successful in animal testing.
“When we injected neutralizing antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500,” Xie said. “That means this potential drug has [a] therapeutic effect.”
The drug uses neutralizing antibodies — produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus infecting cells — which Xie’s team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients.
A study on the team’s research, published on Sunday in the scientific journal Cell, suggested that using the antibodies provides a potential “cure” for the disease and shortens recovery time.
Xie said his team had been working “day and night” searching for the antibody.
“Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology,” he said. “When we realized that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralizing antibody we were thrilled.”
The drug should be ready for use later this year, he added, in time for any potential winter outbreak of the coronavirus, which has infected 4.8 million people and killed more than 318,000.
“Planning for the clinical trial is under way,” Xie said, adding that it would be carried out in Australia and other nations since cases have dwindled in China, offering fewer people for testing.
“The hope is these neutralized antibodies can become a specialized drug that would stop the pandemic,” he said.
China already has five potential vaccines at the human-trial stage, a health official said last week, but the WHO has warned that developing a vaccine could take 12 to 18 months.
Scientists have also touted the potential benefits of plasma — a blood fluid — from recovered individuals who have developed antibodies to the coronavirus, enabling the body’s defenses to attack it.
More than 700 patients have received plasma therapy in China, a process which authorities said showed “very good therapeutic effects.”
“However, it [plasma] is limited in supply,” Xie said, adding that the 14 neutralizing antibodies used in his team’s drug could be put into mass production quickly.
The new drug could even offer short-term protection against COVID-19.
The study showed that if the neutralizing antibody was injected before the mice were infected with the coronavirus, the mice stayed free of infection and no virus was detected.
That could offer temporary protection for medical workers for a few weeks, which Xie said the team is hoping to “extend to a few months.”
More than 100 vaccines for COVID-19 are being worked on globally, but as the process of vaccine development is more demanding, Xie is hoping that the new drug could be a faster and more efficient way to stop the pandemic.
“We would be able to stop the pandemic with an effective drug, even without a vaccine,” he said.
STANDING WITH BEIJING: Carrie Lam did not explain how Hong Kong’s freedoms would be maintained, saying: ‘the best thing is to see the legislation in front of us’ Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) yesterday said that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the territory’s rights and freedoms, and called on citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation. Lam added her voice to an unprecedented barrage of statements by Beijing and local officials, and former Hong Kong leaders defending the legislation and seeking to reassure residents, investors and diplomats about the territory’s freedoms. “There is no need for us to worry,” Lam told a regular weekly news conference. Like others supporting the legislation, she did not explain how Hong Kong’s freedoms would be upheld. “In
STEP TOO FAR? The mandatory COVID-19 app has unprecedented access to users’ location data and forces Android users to give access to their picture and video galleries Privacy concerns over Qatar’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, a tool that is mandatory on pain of prison, have prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions. Like other governments around the world, Qatar has turned to mobile phones to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor infections and alert people at risk of infection. The apps use Bluetooth to ping nearby devices, which can be contacted subsequently if a user they have been near develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus, but the resultant unprecedented access to users’ location
‘CULTURE ERADICATION’: A US official said that Beijing is trying to stamp out the Uighur culture because it is not what the Chinese Communist Party deems ‘Chinese’ The US Congress on Wednesday authorized sanctions against Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Muslim Uighurs. The US House of Representatives voted with just one dissent in favor of the Uighur Human Rights Act. Rights groups say that at least 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have been incarcerated in what Beijing calls “re-education” camps. “If America does not speak out against human rights [violations] in China because of some commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights violations any place in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. House Committee
UNITED STATES SpaceX launch delayed SpaceX’s launch to the International Space Station — the first crewed mission to blast off from US soil in almost a decade — was scrubbed on Wednesday due to fears of a lightning strike. With NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley strapped into the Crew Dragon capsule, the launch pad platform retracted and rocket fueling under way, SpaceX made the call to abort. “We had just simply too much electricity in the atmosphere,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said. UNITED STATES Chinese ministry checked Twitter has applied a fact check tag to at least two posts made in March by