Published Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Antiviral could be effective at
preventing covid-19, scientists say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff and wire services
Alternative treatments and preventive approaches that can be widely and rapidly implemented are urgently needed to curb the risk for covid-19 related hospitalization and death in multiple settings including nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
As the number of new people infected with covid-19 continues to rise in many parts of the world, several highly efficacious vaccines have been authorized for emergency use. But, it may take considerable time to reach target vaccination levels needed for herd immunity due to the logistics of vaccine manufacturing, shipping, storage, and distribution as well as public acceptance.
The UNC study tested how the orally administered experimental drug, known as EIDD-2801, halts SARS-CoV-2 replication and prevents infection of human cells in a new in vivo model containing human lung tissue.
Researchers found that the drug was extremely effective at preventing and treating SARS-CoV-2 infection. Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate EIDD-2801 safety in humans and its effect on viral shedding in covid-19 patients.
According to the study, mouse models can be useful in analyzing highly pathogenic human coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2 and compounds that might control infection. But human coronaviruses do not replicate in mice unless researchers alter the virus, genetically modify the mice, or introduce the individual human receptor genes into mice so the virus can infect cells.
Such mouse models have added to the scientific community’s understanding of coronavirus infection and disease progression, but none of these models possess the diverse human cells found in human lungs where viral infection can cause severe disease. UNC scientists created a solution to this problem, a line of mice with human lung tissue that includes all the primary human cells infected when individuals fall ill with covid-19.
According to the scientists, bats are the presumed source of SARS-CoV-2 and the highly pathogenic human coronaviruses SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, all of which emerged into the human population within the past two decades.
While scientists continue to explore for more treatments against covid-19, in Costa Rica the virus continues infecting more people. According to statistics published by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday:
• 417 new covid-19 cases are reported, bringing the total to 36,334 current active cases.
• 24,461 foreign-born people have been infected as part of the 197,852 cases since March, approximately 12.3% of the total cases. Of these, authorities confirmed the death of 32 foreign-born patients. But since October, there is no updated information about foreign-born deaths due to covid-19.
• 375 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 165 patients are in ICU’s in delicate health conditions. Their ages range from 24 to 94-years-old. And 210 patients are in recovery rooms. Many of the remaining infected patients are quarantined in their homes.
• 158,820 patients have fully recovered, an 80% recovery rate of the total cases since March.
• 617,086 covid-19 tests have been conducted in Costa Rica since March, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering of Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.
• 2,698 deaths are listed as covid-19 related, approximately 1.4% death rate. Of these 1,016 are women and 1,682 men. The ages range from a 2-year-old to a 101-year-old.
• 75,113 doses of covid-19 vaccines have been applied since December 2020. Reaching a national vaccination rate of 1.45 per 100 inhabitants. Of those already vaccinated, 63,775 were applied to first responders and 11,338 to the elderly in long-stay homes and workers in these centers, according to Social Security.
Readers can see the current number of infected people in each district on the National Distance Education University on its Covid-19 Map.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the pandemic has killed more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
How could the discovery of this drug be used in the fight against the pandemic? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org