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Antibody-based therapies currently offer the most promise for a first wave of effective and more widely applicable COVID-19 treatments, according to Luke O’Neill, PhD, chair of biochemistry, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
During his keynote lecture at the 2020 ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Disease (ECCVID), O’Neill said “there is massive hope with antibody therapies.”
“In my opinion, the big breakthrough for people at large will be the approval of an antibody therapy — and many companies are developing really potent anti-spike antibodies, for instance, and they are showing promise. Antibodies are also extremely safe and could be used prophylactically, eg, in nursing home patients. So they may be the big breakthrough ahead of vaccines, with clinical trials being reported in November/December time. There are currently 44 trials running on antibody therapies.”
He also cited positive findings on dexamethasone (circa 70% decreased mortality for ventilated COVID-19 patients), and research on the immune memory response of the BCG vaccine, which is known to offer some protection against other respiratory viruses. “There are seven trials now running on BCG and they should begin to have results soon, so we will see. This is a bridge to a COVID-19 vaccine.”
In addition, the latest phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine candidate trial, which launched in recent days, “is the biggest in medical history in terms of numbers of people [60,000] so you have to be hopeful. A vaccine will help tremendously — even if only partially effective.”
Speaking to Univadis, O’Neill pointed to the huge breadth of published research on COVID-19 already. He found over 55,000 original papers in his most recent search of PubMed, “which is astounding for a brand-new virus.”
“This shows the huge amount of effort that is going into this virus, from scientists and physicians and everybody,” he said. “It’s a really good example of the world mobilizing together to fight this.”
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European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Conference on Coronavirus Disease (ECCVID) 2020: Keynote presentation. Presented September 25, 2020.
This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.