Besides Remdesivir, these 2 COVID-19 treatments could show promise
In the mission to defeat COVID-19, scientists around the world are racing to develop two treatment pathways: an effective therapy and eventually a vaccine. This is so important to the investing world, because we cannot return to a 100% economy, with travel and leisure industries back to normal, until we have a vaccine. In the meantime, effective testing and treatment could help consumers regain enough confidence to return to certain businesses, allowing the economy to open up more than it has already.
Most experts put the timeline for a vaccine at 18 months, although it could be a bit shorter or longer than that. Until then, many market players were focusing on Remdesivir, a drug of Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD). There have been conflicting reports regarding Remdesivir lately, with the World Health Organization accidentally releasing a Chinese study saying Remdesivir was not materially effective. However, Gilead stepped in the next day to challenge the results. Apparently the Chinese study was stopped due to low enrollment, and a Gilead spokesperson said the the trial results were actually encouragingespecially for patients treated early.
While Remdesivir can be useful, it’s also not the only game in town. Recently, two new treatment pathways have been discovered that may prove useful in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus until we get a vaccine.
Last week, Chinese researchers released a report touting their success in cloning antibodies developed in COVID-19 Patients who had recovered. In a controlled laboratory experiment, these cloned antibodies successfully blocked the coronavirus from binding to cell receptors in test tubes.
It is an alternative to using plasma from recovered patients and injecting it into new patients. This route of treatment may also hold promise, but it may be difficult to obtain enough plasma from the relatively small portion of the population that has recovered for the vast majority who have not yet been exposed.
Before you get too excited, the results were of course obtained in a lab, not in living patients. As the research is still in its early stages, it could still turn out whether synthetic antibodies are effective or not in humans. Additionally, synthetic antibodies are a relatively new invention that could be very expensive to produce.
Still, if synthetic antibodies can prove effective in human trials later this year, one can be sure that governments, foundations and private companies will invest heavily in manufacturing this potential therapeutic to alleviate the worst virus effects.
Despite President Trump’s erroneous claim that the human body can be treated for COVID-19 with ultraviolet light, there is actually some support for the idea that UV light can neutralize viruses on surfaces and in the air in public spaces. This solution could be instrumental in starting to open busy stadiums or arenas.
According to a January 2018 article in Scientific reports (opens PDF), researchers were able to neutralize 95% of aerosolized H1N1 flu by hitting it with something called far-UVC light. UV light has never been used in such a setting before, as it can be harmful to skin and eyes. However, “far” UVC light of wavelengths from 207 to 222 nanometers was able to effectively inactivate bacteria without harming eyes or skin, according to the study. According to the article, due to “its strong absorption into biological materials, far-UVC light cannot even penetrate the outer (non-living) layers of human skin or eyes; however, as bacteria and viruses have micrometer or smaller dimensions, far -UVC can penetrate and inactivate them.We show for the first time that far UVC effectively inactivates airborne aerosol viruses, with a very low dose of 2 mJ/cm2 of light at 222 nm inactivating > 95% of aerosolized H1N1 influenza virus.
The article went on to conclude that “far-UVC light in indoor public places is a promising, safe, and inexpensive tool to reduce the spread of airborne microbial diseases.”
Keep an eye on these developments
Nowadays, the market can move with promising medical news or setbacks from previous hopes. Investors looking in particular to potentially fish in travel, leisure or transport Sectors definitely need to monitor both Remdesivir as well as these emerging new treatments to see if they show promise. If we can mitigate the worst consequences of the disease by the fall, parts of the economy may come back sooner, along with the stocks of those industries.
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