A therapy made from a Covid patient’s own blood is being trialled to treat lung scarring that’s left after hospitalisation.
Doctors at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London have begun a small trial using patients’ white blood cells.
The Monocytes as an Anti-fibrotic treatment after COVID-19 (MONACO) cell therapy study is the world’s first Phase 1 trial for the condition that has advanced to a stage where it has been given to patients.
Early estimates indicate that 2% of all patients who had COVID-19, including those who were not hospitalised, will have suffered a degree of fibrotic lung scarring as a result of the infection. This estimate is even higher in patients who were admitted to intensive care. These statistics indicate that globally over 3.5 million people may have a degree of post COVID-19 lung scarring to date.
Lung scarring causes a significant decline in lung function, a long term debilitating reduction in exercise capacity and reduced quality of life in these patients.
The development of the MONACO Cell Therapy Study and production of the treatment were supported by the world class infrastructure and facilities of the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The novel cell therapy used in this study was manufactured within the cutting edge facilities, and with the expert support of highly trained staff within the NIHR BRC’s Advanced Therapies Manufacturing platform at Guy’s Hospital.
Five patients with fibrotic lung disease following recovery from COVID-19, were the first people in the world to receive the experimental cell therapy treatment within the NIHR Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at Guy’s Hospital.
An anti-viral nasal spray called Enovid that was developed in Canada and tested in the UK can reduce the viral loads in confirmed COVID-19 cases by 95% in 24 hours and 99% in 72 hours, a press release said on Sunday.
The Israeli-manufactured spray can be used up to five times a day after coming in contact with viruses, according to the release. It’s suitable for children as young as 12 years old, and the Ministry of Health approved it in January this year. It will go on sale in the coming week.
“The spray we developed has been proven not only as a virus blocker that causes Covid-19 but also as a killer,” Dr. Gili Regev, CEO and founder of SaNotize (the company that developed the spray) said.
Since most COVID-19 infections are nasal, SaNotize believes this is an effective way to reduce the spread and infection of COVID-19. It has been able to suppress the SARS-CoV-2 virus within two minutes, including the Alpha and Gamma variants, according to the release. It is currently being tested against the Delta variant.
The spray is also effective against other respiratory viruses such as those that cause flu.
Children are at extremely slim risk of dying from Covid-19, according to some of the most comprehensive studies to date, which indicate the threat might be even lower than previously thought.
Some 99.995% of the 469,982 children in England who were infected during the year examined by researchers survived, one study found.
In fact, there were fewer deaths among children due to the virus than initially suspected. Among the 61 child deaths linked to a positive Covid-19 test in England, 25 were actually caused by the illness, the study found.
The three studies, by researchers in the U.K. reviewing its national health system’s medical records or pulling together data from other countries, were published on preprint servers Thursday. The studies haven’t yet been reviewed by independent experts and are preliminary.
For more than a year, personal freedoms have been curtailed to keep Covid at bay.
That looks likely to change, with ministers proposing to lift many of the remaining restrictions in England on 19 July. The details, set out on Monday, have sparked intense debate.
Prof Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, whose modelling led to the first lockdown, has said it is a gamble, but one worth taking.
What is unarguable is that the nature of the pandemic in the UK has changed – and with it so should many of our assumptions.
Covid no longer the deadly virus it was
The rollout of the vaccination programme has altered everything, reducing both the individual risk and the wider one to the health system.
Back in January, about one in 10 infections could be expected to translate into a hospital admission 10 days later. Now that figure appears to be somewhere between one in 40 and one in 50.
What is more, those ending up in hospital seem to be less sick, and need less intensive treatment.
The risk of death, as a result, has reduced even further. In January about one in 60 cases resulted in someone dying. Today it’s fewer than one in 1,000.
But this does not mean England – and the rest of the UK for that matter – is not heading for a significant third wave.
As the charts above show, infection rates are rising. If they rise enough, that has the potential to cause a significant number of hospitalisations, possibly 1,000 a day before summer is out.
Many may wonder how this can happen given how effective the vaccines are.
Individually, those who have had two doses are at a very tiny risk of getting seriously ill, but with infection rates high it means many people are taking that tiny risk at the same time. Add to that those who are unvaccinated or for whom the vaccines do not work as well and you can get a lot of admissions to hospital.
But serious illness happens all the time. In the depths of winter there can be 1,000 admissions a day for respiratory infections.
Flu alone killed more than 20,000 people in England in the winter of 2017-18. There was no talk of the need to introduce restrictions or curtail freedoms then.
“That is the context we need to start seeing Covid in,” says Prof Robert Dingwall, a sociologist at Nottingham Trent University.
There are other arguments for why it should be now.
“Covid will never go away,” says Prof Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia. “It’s inevitable that we’re going to catch it repeatedly for the rest of our lives, whether we have had the vaccine or not.
“The issues becomes not whether it is safe to lift all restrictions, but when would it be safest to do so.”
Waiting any longer could make the situation worse, he believes, extending the exit wave into the autumn when schools are back and the flu season is getting under way.
It was a view echoed by England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty, who said it had his personal backing when the government unveiled its plans on Monday.
Latest modelling analysis from Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatistics Unit suggests that the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme has so far prevented an estimated 7.2 million infections and 27,000 deaths in England alone.
This is the first analysis giving an estimated number of vaccine-prevented infections, providing further evidence of the staggering impact of the vaccination programme so far.
PHE Head of Immunisation Dr Mary Ramsay said:
These findings remind us once again why getting both doses of your vaccine is the most important thing you can do to stop the spread of this terrible disease.
As well as preventing the deaths of tens of thousands from COVID-19, for the first time we can now appreciate the huge impact that the vaccines have had on stopping people getting infected, and therefore passing the virus on to others.
The results were produced using the PHE and Cambridge real-time pandemic surveillance model, looking at the direct and indirect impact of the COVID-19 vaccination programme on infections and mortality.
The total was calculated by comparing the estimated impact of vaccination on infection and mortality against a worst-case scenario where no vaccines were in place to reduce infections and mortality.
A third shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine produces a strong immune response, researchers said on Monday, adding there was not yet evidence that such shots were needed, especially given shortages in some countries.
The Oxford University study found that a third dose of the vaccine increases antibody and T-cell immune responses, while the second dose can be delayed up to 45 weeks and also lead to an enhanced immune response.
The British government has said it is looking at plans for an autumn vaccine booster campaign, with three-fifths of adults already having received both doses of a COVID vaccine.
Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said that evidence that the vaccine protects against current variants for a sustained period of time meant that such a booster may not be needed.