Index > Briefing
Thursday, August 12, 2021
Medication Treatment in the Next Phase of Battle against COVID-19

While the world has been at war with COVID-19 for about 20 months, there are still a lot of controversies surrounding how the battle should be fought. In the West there are arguments over mask-wearing and vaccinations. On the other hand, in China there are some who oppose the idea that humanity will co-exist with the virus.

The spread of Delta variant in various countries has increased the outbreaks throughout the world. From August 9 to 11, the number of new cases globally was 654000, 630,000, and 702,000 respectively. During the same period, the number of new cases in the United States was 235,000, 113,000, and 135,000 respectively. This has caused the world to be more anxious in its struggle against the novel coronavirus. Ambitiously aiming to achieve zero cases, China has significantly tightened its pandemic control measures in relevant regions.

However, the general trend indicates that as vaccination becomes more common, countries around the world are more ready in fighting the pandemic, and we are now more experienced in medication treatment, therefore the overall situation will eventually be better than last year. From an objective point of view, we must accept the reality that the novel coronavirus will co-exist with us for a long time, just like the flu virus, and humanity will become more and more adaptable to the pandemic.

What then, differentiates the situation now from that of the past? Researchers at ANBOUND believe that the strategies and measures against COVID-19 will be different based on different backgrounds and stages. In the past, under the state of emergency, the outbreak of an epidemic, or pandemic for that matter, was a sudden public health disaster. The focus would then be taking all necessary emergency measures to stop the spread of the virus and save the lives of patients. At this stage, emergency treatment of patients, speeding up vaccine research and development, strengthening social governance, and locking down severely affected areas are all necessary measures. When the battle against the pandemic is normalized, there would be a shift in focus. Tough measures without considering the effects should no longer be imposed. Instead, there is the need to balance pandemic-control with the normal operation of social-economy, depending on the outbreak situation.

An important change is that the focus is gradually shifting from infection prevention towards medication treatment. Since the novel coronavirus will co-exist with humans for a long time, future cases of virus infection will appear frequently. No vaccine will give complete protection, which means that even if everyone is vaccinated, there will always be a certain number of breakthrough cases. Hence, it is only when effective medication treatments are available then we can they truly normalize our co-existence with the virus.

A few countries that are leading the way in containing COVID-19 have achieved good results in medication treatment. According to Jerusalem Post, the second phase of clinical trials of the new COVID-19 medication EXO-CD24 developed by the team of Professor Nadir Arber from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) in Israel has shown promising results. Due to the improvement of the COVID-19 situation in Israel, the number of severely ill patients there was small, and the second phase of the experiment had to be carried out in Greece. According to reports, 93% of the 90 patients treated with EXO-CD24 were discharged within 5 days. Even patients who failed to recover quickly have also seen positive results, and none of them required intubation or placed on ventilators, and there are no deaths.

It is understood that EXO-CD24 is exosomes enriched with CD24 protein. CD24 can reduce the effect of the immune system, while exosomes are small lipid vesicles, which are mainly used as transport vehicles for CD24. The medication is inhaled through the nasal cavity and mainly acts on the lungs of patients. The principle is to suppress the cytokine storms common in severely ill COVID-19 patients, so that the immune system can clear the virus more safely. In September 2020, the Israeli Ministry of Health approved EXO-CD24 to commence its clinical trials. Of the first 30 critically ill patients, 29 were cured after 5 days of treatment, and none of them had serious side effects. Arber said that the purpose of the current experiment was to verify whether the medication is safe, and until now, no obvious side effects have been found in patients in the first or second phase of the experiment. The Israeli research team is about to start the next phase of the experiment of EXO-CD24, which is expected to finalize by the end of this year.

Compares with conventional treatment of using steroids to suppress cytokine storms, EXO-CD24 is directly inhaled through the trachea to the lungs. It is considerably safe and without adverse reactions, in addition to having high effectiveness. At the same time, it is easy to produce and low in cost. The medication may be used to treat other acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), asthma, allergic reactions, autoimmune system diseases and other problems.

It is foreseeable that if EXO-CD24 is successful and widely promoted, it will greatly change the current COVID-19 situation. This will make countries no longer rely solely on vaccination to prevent and control the pandemic, and eliminate the need for countries to take strict lockdown measures when outbreaks occur. For countries including China, Israel’s experience are worthy of attention. While China's battle against COVID-19 has not neglected medical treatment and since last year it has been exploring treatment methods including traditional Chinese medicine, yet compares with strict prevention and control measures, medication treatment has not become the most important strategy for the country. Even with the reduction of China's cases, this aspect has not been promoted as it is in Israel. Although China's containing measures for COVID-19 have been effective, it still needs to resolve the challenge of medication treatment in the face of the normalization of COVID-19 in the future.

Final analysis conclusion:

In the phase where COVID-19 becomes normalized, humanity will co-exist with the novel coronavirus for a long time. In that new era, the focus of the battle against COVID-19 needs to shift to medication treatment.

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