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Spray, antidepressants, and a new strain with 40 mutations: top 7 news on the fight against COVID-19

Top 7 news on the fight against COVID-19 from March 26 to April 2. Photo: pixabay

Top 7 news on the fight against COVID-19 from March 26 to April 2. Photo: pixabay

The coronavirus pandemic has not abated for the second year. According to WHO forecasts, it should end before the beginning of 2022. Vaccination will be the primary means in the fight against coronavirus. However, so far too few people in the world have been vaccinated—there are not enough drugs.

Moreover, some people sabotage vaccinations due to reports of vaccine side effects. At the same time, medics around the world are trying to find an effective cure for the coronavirus, despite vaccines. The Page has compiled the most important news about the fight against the pandemic in the world this week.


Antidepressants against coronavirus

Fluvoxamine that is commonly prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorders, prevents serious coronavirus disease, according to scientists from the United States.

They have already conducted several studies that show that the drug has a positive effect on the course of the disease and prevents hospitalization.

However, drug companies are still reluctant to invest millions in testing new ways to use cheap drugs that cannot be patented. After all, there remains a rather small chance that a drug that promises success in early trials will be of great benefit.

Last month, the results of a real study were published, that are consistent with JAMA results, of 113 racetrack workers who were offered fluvoxamine after being infected with the coronavirus. None of the 65 patients who decided to take the drug got sick, while six of the 48 people who refused the drugs ended up in hospital and one died.

However, the drug still needs clinical trials for its efficacy and safety for use by coronavirus patients.


Robots against coronavirus

In India, robots have joined the fight against coronavirus. They help patients keep in touch with their loved ones and help health care workers.

Bangalore-based company Invento Robotics has developed three robots to perform a range of tasks, from disinfecting surfaces to answering patient questions. They provide video consultations with doctors.

Using facial recognition technology, the robot can remember the names and faces of the patients with whom it has interacted. The robots can also move freely around the hospital, helping patients communicate with family and doctors using cameras and a video screen attached to their chest. In addition, the robot can take readings and remind patients of medications.


Colds may help fight against coronavirus

Recent research suggests that a common mild infection can help fight the coronavirus. Human rhinoviruses (RSV) that cause more than half of all colds, are the most common respiratory viruses in humans.

They can help human cells to produce interferon that is part of the body's immune defense against viruses. Such facts have prompted scientists from the Center for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow in the UK to think that they can help combat the spread of coronavirus and limit its severity.

To figure it out, the researchers infected cultures of human respiratory cells in the laboratory simultaneously with RSV or coronavirus, or both.

The cultures faithfully mimicked the outer layer of cells that lines the lungs airways. In cells infected with both viruses, the number of coronavirus particles decreased and they could not be detected as early as 48 hours after the initial infection.

In further experiments, the scientists found that RSV suppressed the replication of the coronavirus, no matter what virus had infected the cells first.


Drones against coronavirus

In Africa, drones are being used to reduce the spread of coronavirus. San Francisco-based startup Zipline has stated that it uses drones to deliver medical supplies to local clinics.

The startup now has two distribution centers in Rwanda and four in Ghana, built to expedite the transportation of medical supplies in areas with poor roads and no refrigerators.

Doctors order goods from their phones, and drones deliver them within 50 miles, an average of 30 minutes. Drones can carry packages weighing almost 1.8 kilograms and drop them into a designated spot on the ground using a simple paper parachute.

The startup is also delivering COVID-19 test samples from hospitals in rural Ghana to laboratories in Accra and Kumasi.

This helps to free up hospital beds as people with other diseases can get treatment, such as blood transfusions, closer to home.


Nasal spray against coronavirus

Turkey begins human clinical trials of intranasal coronavirus vaccine. It is planned to start using it this year. The drug has already completed preclinical testing.

Scientists expect such a vaccine to fight the coronavirus more effectively.

Scientists in Turkey are currently working on six vaccine projects. These projects are being developed by scientists at the universities of Erciyes, Hacettepe, Marmara, Ataturk, Akdeniz, and Yildiz Technical University.

However, none of the Turkish vaccines are currently undergoing the second phase of clinical trials.


New strain of coronavirus in Africa

A new type of coronavirus has been identified in Africa. It can include up to 40 mutations. This was announced by the virologist, head of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) John Nkengasong.

Now the pathogen is being investigated in one of the laboratories in South Africa, but there is no data on the efficacy of the already developed coronavirus vaccines against it.

The spread of a new strain of coronavirus likely began from Tanzania, but the country does not provide data on the coronavirus incidence.


Brazilian coronavirus vaccine

Brazil is ready to start trials of its own vaccine ButanVac. The Butantan Biomedical Institute in the Brazilian state of São Paulo plans to start using it in July.

The trials of the drug will begin in April immediately after regulatory approval. By July, Brazil expects to produce about 40 million doses of the drug.

However, the institute stressed that the drug will be used primarily within the country, and only then access to it will be open to other states.

At the same time, manufacturers hope that a vaccine developed in Brazil will help fight the virus in third world countries.

The tests on animals were successful, and the cost of the vaccine will be much less in comparison with others. In particular, there is a possibility that one vaccine will be sufficient for vaccination.