After China said it has begun second phase of trial of a vaccine against Covid-19, similar claims have been made in Italy and Israel. Here is what we know about claimed magic cure for Covid-19.
Has a cure for novel coronavirus infection or Covid-19, the disease, been found? The world wakes up wondering over this question every morning only to find a new addition to the list of claimants.
A Chinese pharmaceutical company is already preparing for mass production of a vaccine that has entered second phase of human trial. The drug was developed at a lab of Chinese military’s medical research wing. Chinese news agency Xinhua claimed it was the first vaccine against novel coronavirus infection.
Italy too claimed to have developed the first vaccine against Covid-19, as reported by news agency ANSA on May 4. This has been developed by a biotechnology company based in Rome. It has isolated antibodies generated in mice that work on human cells.
Tests were conducted at a Rome’s infectious-disease Spallanzani Hospital. The company claimed the drug is the first Covid-19 candidate vaccine that has neutralized the novel coronavirus in human cells. Medical jury is still out on this vaccine just like the Chinese.
Now, Israel has claimed to have developed a vaccine against Covid-19. Like it or not, just like the Chinese candidate vaccine, this one was also developed by a military’s medical research wing. The developer, Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) is considered as a secret lab that directly reports to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.
The announcement was made by Israel’s defense minister, who called it a “significant breakthrough”. The lab has isolated an antibody to the novel coronavirus. Israel said the next step is to patent the discovery and go into mass production of the vaccine in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.
Of the three claimants, Israel’s has been the most transparent and is also backed by a separate independent research, whose findings match with the claims made by Israel on May 5.
The researchers at the IIBR found an antibody that attacks the novel coronavirus in a “monoclonal” way and neutralizes the pathogen inside the body of a Covid-19 patient. The antibody identifies a protein that is good at killing novel coronavirus and gets the job done.
Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are antigen-recognising glycoproteins. Drugs developed on the basis of monoclonal antibodies are often called precision medicine.
A day before Israel’s annoucement, that is, on May 4, a study was published in the Nature finding that human monoclonal antibodies prevent SARS-CoV-2 or the novel coronavirus from infecting new cells. This study was conducted by researchers at Utrecht University, Erasmus Medical Center and Harbour BioMed in The Netherlands.
The researchers said their finding “may offer potential for prevention and treatment of Covid-19”. Israel’s claim looks identical to what the researchers in The Netherlands hoped for.
So, do we have the magic cure for Covid-19? An answer with a full stop is perhaps yet to come.