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Tag: COVID-19

The Netherlands: Medical research teams are the first to discover COVID-19 antibody

The Netherlands Medical research teams are the first to discover COVID-19 antibody
The Netherlands Medical research teams are the first to discover COVID-19 antibody. (iStock/Getty Images)

Researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and at Utrecht University have reported that they have discovered an antibody which combats COVID-19 infection.

If their discovery is confirmed, the antibody could form the basis of the first COVID-19 vaccine, as reported by Free West Media, or possibly even a medicine, which could be developed more quickly than a vaccine.

It may still take some time before an antidote is made available to the public, however. The discovery needs to be verified through the peer review process and it would need to be tested on human subjects before it could be produced for mass distribution.

 
 

Free West Media described it as “a monoclonal antibody, capable of recognizing the protein” that can infect humans. “The antibody has the ability to bind to the aforementioned protein and, consequently, is able to prevent the virus from connecting to the respiratory cells.”

If verified, the discovery could lead to the development of a test for infection that people could use themselves at home, in addition to an antidote. The researchers also believe that the antibody could be effective in treating other viruses which might develop out of the same strain in the future.

“If you were to take this as a patient, it is expected . . . that the infection will be stopped,” Grosveld explained. “And so it can give the patient an opportunity to recover.”

Many European countries are taking extreme measures in order to try to slow the spread of the virus. Angela Merkel said that it is anticipated that 70% of Germans will eventually be infected with the disease, as reported by Voice of Europe.

Morocco reports first coronavirus death: health ministry

Rabat (Reuters) – Morocco’s health ministry confirmed on Tuesday the country’s first death from coronavirus in Casablanca, as its overall number of new infections rose to three.

Morocco reports first coronavirus case after man returns from Italy
A man in Morocco has been diagnosed with the coronavirus (Picture: Getty/PA)

The dead patient, who entered Morocco from Italy’s Bologna, is an 89-year-old Moroccan woman suffering from respiratory and heart diseases, the ministry said in a statement.

Morocco canceled all trips to and from Italy and banned fans from attending football matches, canceled events involving foreign travelers and gatherings of more than 1,000 people as precautionary measures to avert an outbreak of the virus.

via – Reuters | Source – Reuters | Search coronavirus morocco

Japan announces $4 billion coronavirus package, not yet eyeing extra budget

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday announced a second package of measures worth about $4 billion in spending to cope with the fallout to the economy of the coronavirus outbreak, focusing on support for small and mid-sized firms.

An employee, wearing protective face mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), offers food outside a restaurant on an almost empty street in Yokohama’s Chinatown, south of Tokyo, Japan March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
An employee, wearing protective face mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), offers food outside a restaurant on an almost empty street in Yokohama’s Chinatown, south of Tokyo, Japan March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

The package, totalling 430.8 billion yen ($4.1 billion) in spending, shows how much pressure policymakers are under to bolster fragile growth and stem the risk of corporate bankruptcies, as event cancellations and a slump in tourism threaten to hit the broader economy hard.

To help fund the package, the government will tap the rest of this fiscal year’s budget reserve of about 270 billion yen, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

“I’ll carry out necessary and sufficient economic and fiscal management without hesitation or delay, while fully ascertaining economic moves and effects on the people’s livelihoods from now on as well,” Abe said at the end of a meeting of the government’s economic advisory council.

The move is likely to affect what the Bank of Japan decides at its March 18-19 policy review.

The central bank will aim to ensure that companies hit by the virus outbreak do not face a financial squeeze before the end of the current fiscal year in March, Reuters has reported.

 

Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday there was no need yet for a bigger extra budget, adding that the fallout from the outbreak so far had not reached the scale of the 2009 financial crisis.

“We need to ascertain the current situation,” Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting. If was not yet clear if the government needed an extra budget, he said.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

As well as support for businesses, the new package will fund improvements to medical facilities, ease the supply and demand of masks, promote working from home, and provide subsidies to working parents who must take leave because of closed schools.

Aso said financing will focus on small and tiny businesses in need of financing over the next two to three weeks.

The financial watchdog has urged credit associations and regional banks to hold hearings with small businesses about their financial situation, he added.

Japan will boost 1.6 trillion yen in special financing for small- and mid-size firms hit by the virus, Abe said, up from about 500 billion yen previously announced.

Reuters first reported the second package’s size earlier on Tuesday and the financing on Monday.

As part of the second package, Abe has said a government-affiliated lender would offer funds effectively at no interest and without collateral to small firms whose sales slumped amid the outbreak.

The virus has infected more than 111,000 people and killed more than 4,000 globally, with the accompanying economic disruption undermining Japan’s export-led economy.

The world’s third-largest economy shrank by the most since a 2014 sales tax hike in the quarter to December, intensifying fears of an economic downturn.

The outbreak comes at a critical time for Japan, shattering hopes of a gradual economic recovery fuelled by strong domestic demand just as it prepares to host the summer Olympic Games in July and August.

The epidemic has prompted heavy selling of riskier assets and a scramble into assets such as the yen, perceived as safe havens during times of financial distress. [MKTS/GLOB]

via – Reuters | Source – Reuters | Search  》japan coronavirus

Interview with a Chinese doctor infected with Coronavirus – CoVid-19

A Doctor’s Road to Recovery. Interesting interview from CGTN with a Chinese Doctor who recovered from Coronavirus.

Doctor says faith, trust and cooperation essential to defeating COVID-19
Watch this video on YouTube.

A Chinese doctor got infected with the novel coronavirus by treating a patient. He was discharged from the hospital after a month-long treatment. He said faith, trust and cooperation were the keys to defeating the disease.

Calif. City Sues to Block COVID-19 Patient Transfer; Europe’s First Major Outbreak

President Trump reportedly “furious” at decision to bring home infected patients

coronavirus-patients-Fairview-Developmental-Center
Controversial Housing issues for Coronavirus US Patients.

While the global COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic continued to multiply across Europe and Asia, the U.S.’s fight against the virus detoured into the court system and even the Oval Office.

Up to 50 coronavirus patients currently housed at Travis Air Force Base northeast of San Francisco, including those from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, were scheduled to be transferred to Fairview Developmental Center in the southern California city of Costa Mesa.

But Fairview Developmental Center is an empty building requiring $25 million in renovations and previously found unsuitable to function as a homeless shelter, according to NBC News.

City officials in Costa Mesa won a restraining order Friday against federal health agencies, including the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), after arguing that the city only learned of the plan on Thursday night and were given inadequate time to prepare for the move. They also cited concern the building is “surrounding by schools, golf courses and homes,” NBC News said.

There will be an expedited hearing of the case on Monday afternoon.

It was generally not a good weekend for the federal government, with the Washington Post reporting President Trump was “furious” at not being consulted about the decision to bring 14 U.S. citizens with coronavirus back to this country. The president had been assured that while Americans who were in quarantine on the cruise ship would return home, patients who tested positive would remain in quarantine overseas. Trump reportedly complained that he should have been told of the plan, which had been developed by the State Department over CDC and HHS officials’ objections.

Meanwhile, Europe is dealing with its first major outbreak, with coronavirus cases sweeping through Italy. CNN reported the country had three cases on Friday and now has 152, including 110 in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, and three deaths.

The outbreak led the country to place several towns in northern Italy under quarantine, close schools in Milan, and end Venice’s annual Carnival early, according to the BBC.

However, no country’s coronavirus problem has ballooned so fast as South Korea’s. TIME reported the country now has 833 cases, including 231 reported early Monday, with seven deaths. Most have been concentrated in Daegu, a city 150 miles from Seoul, though cases have begun to crop up in other parts of the country. The outbreak has been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, with the government reporting 9,000 of the sect’s members are under quarantine, according to TIME.

Over the weekend, the CDC responded to all this news by updating its travel advisories, with a Level 2 alert on travel to South Korea and Japan, and Level 1 travel alerts for Italy and Iran.

Remdesivir antiviral – potential treatment for COVID-19

The discovery that the antiviral drug remdesivir prevented MERS-CoV disease in monkeys supports the clinical trial testing of remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19.

Remdesivir-antiviral
remdesivir is a promising antiviral treatment against MERS that could be considered for implementation in clinical trials. This colorized scanning electron micrograph shows MERS virus particles (blue) both budding and attached to the surface of infected VERO E6 cells (yellow). Image credit: NIAID.

Three different coronavirus outbreaks (SARS, MERS, COVID-19) have emerged from animal reservoirs in the past two decades that have caused severe disease and concerns over global spread.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) first appeared in 2012, eight years after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) first emerged from China in late 2002/2003.  Although no cases of SARS-CoV have been detected since 2004, MERS-CoV continues to circulate with 2,499 reported cases and 861 deaths as of December 2019. The case fatality rate of MERS-CoV is 35% as compared to SARS-CoV which was around 10%.

Since the emergence of MERS-CoV, scientists have focused on developing animal models in which to test new treatments. Currently, there are no FDA-approved antivirals or vaccines for the treatment and prevention of MERS-CoV.

However, a new report from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a step forward for remdesivir in the approval process for coronavirus treatment.

Remdesivir is an experimental antiviral drug with broad activity

Remdesivir (GS-5734) created in 2014 by the biotechnology company Gilead in Foster City, California was initially developed to fight infectious viral diseases such as Ebola.  As a nucleotide analogue prodrug, it is not active outside the cell. Studies indicate that in the cell, it is metabolized into more active metabolites that inhibit coronavirus replication through interference with viral enzymes (RNA polymerases) that are necessary for replication. Host RNA or DNA polymerases are not affected.

Studies have demonstrated that MERS-CoV enters cells with the help of an S protein or spike to help attach to host cells. The virus then hijacks or delays the normal immune system response as the infection steadily progresses.

Already, remdesivir has proven effective in treating monkeys infected with Ebola and Nipah viruses and human clinical trials are currently underway. Thus far, studies suggest that two other drugs are more effective than remdesivir in treating Ebola.

Multiple in vitro (test tube) studies have demonstrated that remdesivir has broad antiviral activity against viruses from different families (including filo-, pneumo-, and paramyxoviruses) without any noted adverse toxic effects.  For example, replication of a wide range of coronaviruses including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV was inhibited in human airway (lung) epithelial cells.

In vivo studies with mice also demonstrated that remdesivir was effective against SARS-CoV.

Remdesivir prevented MERS-CoV in monkeys when administered before infection and improved disease symptoms when administered after the animals were infected.

Researchers randomly assigned 18 male rhesus macaques to three groups of six at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana.

One group of monkeys was treated prophylactically (24 h before MERS-CoV infection) with 5 mg/kg remdesivir. Another group was similarly given 5 mg/kg remdesivir but therapeutically (12 h after MERS-CoV infection which is close to the peak time for MERS-CoV replication).  A control group did not receive any remdesivir. The treatment was continued once daily for six days. On the sixth day, researchers assessed viral RNA levels and lesions (damage) present in lung tissues.

The researchers observed signs of respiratory disease in the control group, which included increased respiration rates and lung lesions that consisted of minimal to marked interstitial pneumonia.

Animals treated prophylactically exhibited normal lung tissue with significantly lower levels of MERS-CoV replication compared to the control group. No lesions were present in the lung tissues.

Since one-third of MERS-CoV cases are acquired in the hospital (through nosocomial transmission), prophylactic remdesivir treatment could prevent disease in healthcare personnel or individuals who are in close contact with already diagnosed MERS-CoV patients.

For patients already diagnosed with MERS-CoV, remdesivir may reduce virus replication and decrease the severity of lung lesions.

Five out of six animals treated with remdesivir after infection had increased respiration rates that were still significantly lower than the control group at days three and six. This group also demonstrated lower levels of MERS-CoV replication in the lungs than the control group but levels were higher than the prophylactically treated group.

Moreover, the total area of lungs affected by lesions was significantly smaller than the control group and the lung damage was less severe.

Researchers observed various levels of pneumonia severity when treated therapeutically. Two out of six animals did not show any evidence of pneumonia.

Clinical trials of remdesivir for COVID-19 are currently underway and needed for MERS-CoV

Now that remdesivir has demonstrated in vitro and in vivo activity in animal models against SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, which are coronaviruses that are structurally similar to COVID-19, there is potential for it to be also effective as a treatment for COVID-19.

The drug is being advanced into human clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment in China, given the current necessity for treatment.  Results from these studies are expected to be available this spring.

Even though remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved by any drug regulators globally and there is no data available on its effectiveness as a treatment for COVID-19, it has been administered for emergency treatment in a small number of patients with in the absence of other approved treatment options. No adverse effects have been seen in these cases.

References:

  • Wit, E. de, Feldmann, F., Cronin, J., Jordan, R., Okumura, A., Thomas, T., … Feldmann, H. (2020, February 13). Prophylactic and therapeutic remdesivir (GS-5734) treatment in the rhesus macaque model of MERS-CoV infection. Retrieved from https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/02/12/1922083117#F3
  • (n.d.). Remdesivir prevents MERS coronavirus disease in monkeys. Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/nioa-rpm021320.php
  • Characterizing MERS-CoV Disease. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/characterizing-mers-cov-disease
  • (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gilead.com/science-and-medicine/pipeline
  • Severe 2019-nCoV Remdesivir RCT – Tabular View. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/record/NCT04257656
  • Company Statements. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gilead.com/news-and-press/company-statements/gilead-sciences-statement-on-the-company-ongoing-response-to-the-2019-new-coronavirus
  • Gilead Assesses Ebola Drug as Possible Coronavirus Treatment (1). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://news.bloomberglaw.com/pharma-and-life-sciences/gilead-assesses-ebola-drug-as-possible-coronavirus-treatment
  • https://www.who.int/ebola/drc-2018/summaries-of-evidence-experimental-therapeutics.pdf?ua=1
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/srep43395