The novel coronavirus Photograph:( Reuters )
According to The Washington Post, vaccines are the permanent hope for controlling this outbreak.
The Trump administration is pushing for a therapeautic intervention as the key to mitigate the adverse impact of coronavirus pandemic. Researchers want to develop COVID-19 therapeutics by early fall, months before even a vaccine is developed as per the timeline, fearing that the demand could outstrip supply if the pandemic continues to rage.
According to The Washington Post, vaccines are the permanent hope for controlling this outbreak. "But even with success, some people may not respond to vaccines and some may not get vaccinated, so we are always going to need therapeutics," Janet Woodcock, who is leading the therapeutics effort under Operation Warp Speed and is a senior advisor to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said at a briefing on Monday.
Introduced in early April, Operation Warp Speed is a federal government initiative to speed up the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. It is an interagency programme that includes components of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health, and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA); the Department of Defense; private firms; and other federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The project has a budget of at least $10 billion.
Unlike vaccines, therapeutics have to be developed against multiple facets of the infection, including antiviral treatments that target the virus and medication that quells the out-of-control immune storm that causes the most severe illness.
Woodcock has hence urged Americans who have recently recovered from the coronavirus to donate blood plasma, rich with virus-fighting antibodies, to help other patients.
Although it is not yet clear whether the plasma transfusions are effective, they have been shown to be safe in vast numbers of patients and evidence suggests they may help, particularly if given to hospitalized patients early in the disease. Convalescent plasma has been viewed as a bridge to the development of pharmaceutical treatments and vaccines, but there is a relatively narrow window for donation, six to eight weeks after illness, which limits the ability to make transfusions widely available.