#AidsVirtual2020: Promising research for COVID19 

#AidsVirtual2020: Promising research for COVID19 R5,9-billion will advance the fight against Covid-19.(Planeta América Latina/Flickr)

Important advances in COVID-19 research, including promising data on new treatments, were announced at the 23rd International Aids Conference. 

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The Covid-19 outbreak is not the first pandemic the world has ever experienced, Dr Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases told the conference.

Corona viruses account for about to 15 to 30 percent of the common colds in the world, he pointed out. 

“In 2002 we experienced SARS and in 2012 we experience MERS. This is the third pandemic caused by a Corona virus. It was thrust upon us suddenly and explosively recognised at the end of December of 2019,” says Fauci. 

There are now about 12 million people throughout the world who have been affected, and over a half million deaths in over 200 countries, he says. It has also essentially brought the world to a standstill in varying degrees. 

There are multiple candidates for possible vaccines that are in various stages of development. 

“One, a UK one of the chimp ad from Oxford, is already in phase three trial in South America and in South Africa.” 

Fauci says these are being developed all over the world and not only in the United States. 

“One is going into phase three trial at the end of July and messenger RNA. There are multiple platforms that involve mRNA viral vectors, and soluble individually expressed proteins.” 

Fauci says that he hopes that there will be an answer to the safety and efficacy of the vaccines(in trial) within this year.  

“So the end of this year or the beginning of 2021 if we are successful, we might have a vaccine that’s available,” he added.. 

Sofosbuvir and daclatasvir potential treatment for COVID-19
 

Andrew Hill of Liverpool University presented promising results from a study of sofosbuvir and daclatasvir – a drug combination currently used for hepatitis C – as a treatment for moderate or severe COVID-19.  

This open-label trial included 66 adults with COVID-19 admitted to four Iranian University hospitals.  

Patients were randomized to standard care either with or without sofosbuvir and daclatasvir.
Hydroxychloroquine ± lopinavir/ritonavir which were standard at the time of the study are now seen to have no no benefit for COVID-19. 

Researchers found that the patients receiving sofosbuvir and daclatasvir had better 14-day clinical recovery rates and shorter hospital stays. The study concludes that larger confirmatory trials are needed to support worldwide regulatory approval of sofosbuvir and daclatasvir to treat COVID-19.  

Hill says the results are showing significantly faster rates of clinical recovery. There is also improved survival for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 who are given two hepatitis C drugs. 

“These results are from three relatively small open label trials in 176 

Patients conducted in three cities in Iran during their first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, “he says. 

No involvement by big pharma 

According to Hill, this treatment is being developed with no support from the large pharmaceutical companies.  

“All our funding is from governments, universities, or donor agencies such as unity. If this treatment proves to be effective, it could be made available worldwide as a cheap generic treatment, costing approximately seven US dollars per 14-day treatment course.” he says.

Kristen Marks of Weill Cornell Medicine presented a study that examined characteristics associated with clinical improvement and mortality in patients with severe COVID-19 who were treated with remdesivir 

Remdesivir has demonstrated potent in vitro and in vivo activity against SARS-CoV-2 and favourable clinical efficacy and good tolerability in patients with COVID-19 treated through compassionate use.

In this open-label, phase 3 trial, hospitalized COVID-19 patients were randomized to receive either five or 10 days of intravenous remdesivir once daily. Of the 397 study patients, 31% were on high-grade oxygen support at baseline. Through median follow up of 10 days, 256 patients had clinical improvement in oxygen support (2 or more points of improvement on a 7-point scale) and 44 had died.

In-utero vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is possible
 
Claudio Fenizia of the University of Milan presented results of a study that investigated whether vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is possible and whether this results in foetal involvement.  

The study also analysed the role of the antibody and the inflammatory responses in placenta and plasma from SARS-CoV-2-positive pregnant women and foetuses.

The study enrolled 31 pregnant women, all of whom had SARS-CoV-2. The virus was found in an at-term placenta and in the umbilical cord blood, in the vagina of a pregnant woman and in milk. Furthermore, the study found specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG antibodies in the umbilical cord blood of pregnant women  

According to the researchers, the study provides strong evidence that in utero vertical transmission is possible in women who have SARS-CoV-2.

So, overall, we believe that our data suggests that vertical transmission during pregnancies is indeed possible,” says Fenizia. – Health-e News