Five Israelis teams fighting for a COVID-19 cure
[JPost] - Israeli scientists and researchers are racing to find a cure for COVID-19, as global consensus is forming among medical professionals that vaccination is not going to eliminate corona.
When Israel launched its mass vaccination campaign, there were many who believed there would no longer be a need for medication, Prof. Eli Schwartz, founder of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Disease at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, told The Jerusalem Post.
"Now we know that this was an illusion," he said. "Even in Israel, not everyone is taking the vaccine. There is quite a big population of youngsters under the age of 16 for whom it will be at least months until we have a vaccine."
Prof. Shlomo Maayan, head of the Infectious Disease Division at Barzilai Medical Center, explained to the Post that there are three reasons the vaccines will not mean the end of COVID. First, even the most effective vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — are only around 95% effective. That means that there is still a one-in-1,000 chance of getting the virus.
Moreover, the virus continually mutates, which means that at various points a mutation may come about that renders the vaccines less effective or even noneffective, as was shown in the case of the South African mutation.
Finally, the global population is massive, and it will take a long time, probably several years, for everyone who wants to be inoculated to be jabbed.
Most importantly, based on pre-Covid studies of coronaviruses, we expect the vaccination induced immunity to be transient.
Even in Israel, there is no expectation of 100% recovery from the pandemic.
As such, teams of medical professionals and scientists are striving to develop novel treatments and drugs to help solve the crisis and keep people out of hospitals.
Almost daily, there is an announcement of a breakthrough medication — many of them being tested in Israel.
Despite all of the excitement around them, Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, director of the Grass Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that these press releases "need to be taken with a grain of salt" and put into perspective.
..."There is a plethora of drugs that are being used [during the pandemic]," said Maayan. "Some of the drugs we started using a year ago we are still using, and some have been phased out."
For example, Gilead’s remdesivir, which was originally touted for its believed ability to hinder the virus’s ability to reproduce, was later discovered to be only modestly effective.
The same is true with hydroxychloroquine, which is traditionally used to prevent or treat malaria. At the beginning of the pandemic, the drug was given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. That authorization was later revoked, after reports of serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries and liver problems and failure.
In contrast, monoclonal antibodies — laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens, including viruses, and that became well-known last year when former US president Donald Trump received them immediately upon being diagnosed with COVID-19 — continue to be used by hospitals worldwide to help ward off serious infection.
"The idea is to do a proper study," Maayan said. "If you do not have a proper study, you don’t have a control group, then even if the initial impression is good, it is not really good enough."
Details at the link.
Most importantly - once we'll see that immunization effects are temporary - there will be some money for (long overdue) investigation of the immune memory mechanisms.
Posted by: g(r)omgoru 2021-02-20