Published Thursday, July 9, 2020
Costa Rica starts production of
treatment against covid-19
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Scientists at the Clodomiro Picado Research Institute at the University of Costa Rica announced the start of the production of a large quantity of plasma used to generate antibodies as a treatment against covid-19.
According to the specialists, after three months of developing an immunization process from horses, which were used for plasma production, it was recorded that the animals reached their peak in the generation of antibodies against covid-19.
This week, the process started of extracting the plasma from the animals to begin producing the antibody formula that will be used as the highly expected treatment against the virus.
"During the immunization process, the response of specific antibodies in the horses was monitored," said Mauricio Arguedas-Gómez, the veterinarian of the institute. "When we determined that these peaked, we decided it was time to draw the blood."
According to Arguedaz, the blood was processed to obtain the plasma, from which the antibodies were extracted. The rest of the blood, after the antibodies extraction process, was returned to each horse to prevent them from developing anemia.
"At all times, the horse's health was closely monitored, they had enough pasture, good quality food and always treated them with patience," Arguedaz said.
Horses were given four immunizations with different combinations of covid-19 proteins, which do not harm the health of the equines.
Then, the number of antibodies against viral proteins was measured using a test that the same institute designed.
Finally, between eight and nine liters of plasma were extracted from each horse, collecting close to 50 liters of plasma.
"Among the proteins selected for immunization is the S1 protein, which is the viral protein that binds to the cellular receptor. Also the E and M proteins, as a recombinant construct, and the N nucleocapsid protein,” said Guillermo León, coordinator of the institute's Industrial Division.
The scientist reported the N nucleocapsid protein, although it is an internal antigen of the virus, contains more antibodies. Therefore, it was also used as a substance capable of inducing an immune response to the virus.
Scientists are expected to announce the manufacturing of the first batch of covid-19 treatment in the coming days. The institute process has the advantage of being able to be produced in large quantities of treatment.
Costa Rican scientists are running against time due to the spike in covid-19 infections in the country.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health provided the following statistics of the status of the virus in the country:
• 350 new cases of patients infected with covid-19, bringing the total to 3,883 active cases.
• The ages of infected patients range from a three-month-old baby to a 96-year-old person.
• 1,706 foreigners have been infected of the 5,836 cases since March, approximately 29% of the total cases.
• 113 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 102 patients are in recovery rooms and 11 are in an ICU, with delicate health conditions. Most of the infected patients are quarantined in their homes.
• 1,929 coronavirus patients have fully recovered, which is a 33% recovery rate.
• 35,374 people have been ruled out.
• 50,852 medical covid-19 tests have been made.
• 25 deaths have been reported from patients infected with covid-19 since March, 10 women and 15 men.
Readers can reach the updated number of total patients in each district at the National Distance Education University on its Covid-19 Map.
As of Wednesday night, the pandemic has killed 549,411 patients worldwide, according to recent statistics reported by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
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