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Scientists working on a cure for Covid-19 believe they have developed a new drug that can provide “instant immunity” from coronavirus.
For people who have already been exposed to the virus, a vaccine would not be effective but the experts from the University College Hospitals NHS Trust (UCLH) in London say their revolutionary antibody treatment, dubbed “Storm Chaser,” could be a life-saver for people in the early stages of infection.
Dr Catherine Houlihan, one of the virologists working on Storm Chaser, said: “If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people who are exposed to the virus going on to develop Covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus.”
10 volunteers have already been injected with the antibody treatment, which is being developed by pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca.
If the trial proves successful the researchers believe it could provide protection from the virus for up to a year.
““The advantage of this medicine is that it gives you immediate antibodies,” Dr Houlihan told The Guardian.
Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia and an expert in infectious diseases, says that the Storm Chaser trial could potentially save thousands of lives.
He explained: “If you are dealing with outbreaks in settings such as care homes, or if you have got patients who are particularly at risk of getting severe Covid, such as the elderly, then this could well save a lot of lives.
“Providing it's borne out in phase 3 trials, it could play a big role in keeping alive people who would otherwise die. So it should be a big thing.”
He says the treatment could be particularly effective in containing outbreaks among groups of vulnerable patients: “If you had an outbreak in a care home, you might want to use these sorts of cocktails of antibodies to bring the outbreak under control as soon as possible by giving the drug to everybody in the care home – residents and staff – who haven't been vaccinated.
“Similarly, if you live with your elderly grandmother and you or someone else in the house gets infected, then you could give her this to protect her.”
The development provides much-needed new hope. On Christmas Day, Covid-19 claimed 570 lives in England alone, with the other three UK nations are yet to release their figures. The number of new cases reported in England yesterday (December 25) was over 31,000.
Across the UK, the virus has claimed at least 86,000 lives and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is refusing to rule out a full national lockdown.
Do you think a third lockdown could succeed where the others failed? Let other Star readers know in the comments below.
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