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Coronavirus vaccine: Singapore scientists discover 5 antibodies that can combat COVID-19

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A team of scientists in Singapore has discovered 5 antibodies that can block coronavirus and protect against the key mutations developed in the virus during the pandemic, according to the country's defence research and development organisation, Defence Science Organisation (DSO). PTI reported that the human trials for the lead antibody, AOD01 will begin in the upcoming months after getting approval from the Health Sciences Authority.

Scientists at the DSO have screened "hundreds of thousands" of B cells from the blood samples of the novel coronavirus patients who have recovered since March this year. B cells are the cells that produce antibodies to target pathogens. The scientists managed to isolate the first two antibodies for testing within a month of receiving these blood samples from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and Singapore General Hospital.

Another three effective antibodies were, however, identified three months later through a technique wherein B cells are screened simultaneously with the live virus, allowing antibodies with effective virus neutralising properties to be identified. According to a Channel News Asia report, this technique was developed jointly by the DSO, National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Life Sciences Institute over the past 5 years.

Results prove that these five antibodies "demonstrate neutralisation" against coronavirus, the DSO said. It further added that these antibodies are "all potent in blocking infection and effective against key mutations that have emerged in the virus during the pandemic."

According to Dr Conrad Chan, a senior scientist at DSO, the research phase is now complete and the study is now transitioning into the preclinical phase, where the team is preparing this antibody for production. Dr Chan further said that this will allow clinical trials to be conducted and manufacturing will be ramped up if human trials are successful.

Ramdev's Patanjali claims to have discovered cure for coronavirus

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While pharma companies across the world are still struggling to find the COVID-19 vaccine or a drug that can provide 100 per cent immunity against the deadly virus, Baba Ramdev's consumer goods and herbal medicine company Patanjali Ayurved has made a bold claim of finding a cure for COVID-19.

Patanjali co-founder Acharya Balkrishna told AajTak that the Patanjali's coronavirus medicine has already cured around 1,000 people. Balkrishna has said that patients across the country were administered their medicine and 80 per cent of them were cured of coronavirus soon afterwards.

Balkrishna said the company started working on the medicine the moment it started spreading across the world from China's Wuhan. Each and every department of his company had been fully dedicated to making a cure for the virus since the pandemic started, he said.

The cure has cleared all testing in labs and has been fully developed, he claimed.

Explaining the process behind the cure for coronavirus, Balkishrna said the medicine was made after carefully studying religious texts such as the Vedas. The formulas derived from these texts were implemented using ayurvedic ingredients to make the cure, he claimed.

The scientist at Patanjali worked day and night to come up with the cure as fast as possible, said Balkrishna to AajTak. Patanjali is now conducting clinical trials as per the government regulations, he said.

Coronavirus vaccine update: US firm Eli Lilly begins human trial of potential treatment

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US-based healthcare firm Eli Lilly and Co has said that it has begun with the world's first human trial of potential antibody treatment of coronavirus. The first set of patients have been dosed in an early-stage trial which is the world's first study of an antibody treatment against the disease. The study will assess safety and tolerability in patients hospitalised with coronavirus and results are anticipated by the end of June, the company said in a statement.

The experimental treatment, LY-CoV555, has been developed through collaboration with privately held AbCellera Biologics, which Lilly partnered with in March to test antibodies to treat and prevent coronavirus. Eli Lilly also said that it plans to move into the next phase of testing, studying the potential treatment in non-hospitalised patients, if the drug is shown to be safe.

Right now, over 100 experimental COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO). From US-based Moderna Inc to China's CanSino Pharmaceuticals Inc, some of the world's biggest companies are in the race to develop the coronavirus vaccine.

"I still think that we have a good chance, if all the things fall in the right place, that we might have a vaccine that would be deployable by the end of the year, by December and November," Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force and globally renowned immunologist, recently said.

Meanwhile, there are 64,52,390 cases of coronavirus currently across the world. So far, 3,82,479 people have died from the disease.

Coronavirus vaccine update: After Moderna, CanSino Biologics claims positive results in early trials

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The preliminary findings of the test for the coronavirus vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics have shown favourable results, a study showed. The potential COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and triggered an immune response in healthy adults in the early trials, the study published in the health journal The Lancet said. The early trials showed that the experimental vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, may help train the human body to resist infection by the new SARS-CoV-2 virus. The study includes 108 participants aged between 18 and 60 years and with no history of coronavirus infection. The phase 1 trials were conducted in Wuhan, Hubei province.

It comes days after biotechnology company Moderna had said that the preliminary findings of its test for coronavirus vaccine development have shown favourable results. The experimental vaccine appears to be safe and able to trigger an immune response against the infection, Moderna had said. There are more than 100 coronavirus vaccines being currently developed globally.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Varshan on Sunday said that at least four of the candidate coronavirus vaccines are soon expected to enter the clinical trial stage. "There are over 100 candidate vaccines  which are at different levels of development. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is coordinating the efforts. India is also actively contributing in it," Vardhan said in a social media interaction with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader G V L Narasimha Rao.

"As far as I know, four of our fourteen  vaccines will soon be in the clinical trial stage, within 4 to 5 months. All the 14 are right now at the pre-clinical trial stage," he added.

Trump tells WHO to prove 'independence' from China within 30 days; warns freeze on funding

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US President Donald Trump wrote to the World Health Organisation alleging the UN body of underplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus when it first broke out. Trump wrote to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and gave the organisation an ultimatum of 30 days to "commit to major substantive improvements". He said that if the organisation failed to do so within the stipulated time, then the US would stop funding WHO and consider withdrawing its membership. "I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organisation that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America's interests," said Trump in his letter.

The US President alleged that the WHO consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier. He said that the organisation failed to independently probe the reports that were in conflict with the Chinese government's accounts.

Trump said that the WHO realised that coronavirus was a health emergency not later than December 30. He said that there was enough evidence from the country to show that a new virus was emerging. Taiwan had also informed the WHO about the virus that could communicate from human to human. Trump said that even then WHO did not do anything.

The US President said Dr Zheng Yongzhen had alerted the government but nothing was published by them till he posted about COVID-19 himself online. Soon after the government shut down his lab for "rectification".

Donald Trump also pointed out that WHO had initially said that there was no evidence to suggest that coronavirus spread from human to human. He also alleged that Chinese President Xi Jinping pressured Ghebreyesus to not declare corona a health emergency. Ghebreyesus, Trump alleged, gave in to the pressure. He in fact, praised the Chinese government for its "transparency", said Trump.

Even when coronavirus was declared an emergency, the WHO failed to pressure China to allow a team of international medical experts into the country. It was done so only two weeks later and even then Wuhan was off limits. "You also strongly praised China's strict domestic travel restrictions, but were inexplicably against my closing of the United States border, or the ban, with respect to people coming from China," said Trump. He said that China's pressure campaign on other nations to lift travel restrictions was supported by the WHO's incorrect statements.

The WHO also downplayed the risk of asymptomatic spread, said Trump. He added that by the time China declared coronavirus a pandemic, it had already killed 4,000 people and infected 100,000 people across 114 countries.

Trump said that even now China refuses to share data accurately and on a timely basis. "China continues to deny international access to their scientists and relevant facilities, all while casting blame widely and recklessly censoring its own experts," said Trump.

The WHO failed to force China for an independent investigation. "The WHO could have done so much better," said Trump citing example of the organisation's handling of the SARS outbreak.

Donald Trump, in his letter, asked WHO to demonstrate "independence from China". He reiterated that action is needed on this urgently and there's no time to waste, asking WHO to prove itself in 30 days.

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