July 11, 2020 - 10:38 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Scientists have devised a way to use the antibody-rich blood plasma of Covid-19 survivors for an upper-arm injection that they say could inoculate people against the virus for months.
Using technology that’s been proven effective in preventing other diseases such as hepatitis A, the injections would be administered to high-risk healthcare workers, nursing home patients, or even at public drive-through sites — potentially protecting millions of lives, the doctors and other experts say, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The two scientists who spearheaded the proposal — an 83-year-old shingles researcher and his counterpart, an HIV gene therapy expert — have garnered widespread support from leading blood and immunology specialists, including those at the center of the United State’s Covid-19 plasma research.
But the idea exists only on paper. Federal officials have twice rejected requests to discuss the proposal, and pharmaceutical companies — even acknowledging the likely efficacy of the plan — have declined to design or manufacture the shots, according to a Times investigation. The lack of interest in launching development of immunity shots comes amid heightened scrutiny of the federal government’s sluggish pandemic response.
There is little disagreement that the idea holds promise; the dispute is over the timing. Federal health officials and industry groups say the development of plasma-based therapies should focus on treating people who are already sick, not on preventing infections in those who are still healthy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said an upper-arm injection that would function like a vaccine “is a very attractive concept.”
However, he said, scientists should first demonstrate that the coronavirus antibodies that are currently delivered to patients intravenously in hospital wards across the country actually work. “Once you show the efficacy, then the obvious next step is to convert it into an intramuscular” shot.