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Coronavirus might end with a newly proposed treatment

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A recent trial for a possible treatment for the coronavirus infection has hinted towards hopeful results with DNA vaccine.
Since the coronavirus outbreak in November 2019, the number of effected patients has continuously been increasing. Numerous scientists and research groups are working to develop an effective vaccine and find a possible treatment. However, until now there has been no fruitful outcome. Some speculate that a vaccine would be ready in a few months. However, other reports state that the teams are not even close to developing a cure.
 
A recent vaccine trial has shown some progress in finding a treatment. It has proposed the use of DNA vaccines as a possible solution to end this crisis altogether.
 
Currently, a large number of doctors are employing convalescent plasma therapy. Recovered coronavirus patients are plasma donors. Doctors then inject this plasma in critical patients to improve their immunity. Since it contains appropriate antibodies to ward of the disease, the process has shown some positive results.
 
 
However, it is to note that the technique is not very efficient. Finding a matching blood group can sometimes pose a serious problem. Therefore, the search for the universal solution is still going on.

Clinical Trial

Published in the journal, Science, on 20th May, a study by students from Harvard Medical School in Boston, has shown positive results from DNA vaccine testing on monkeys.
 
By injecting genetically modified plasmids into the blood stream, DNA vaccine can treat infections. The plasmids contain an antigen sequence that trigger an immune response. This allows for the body to make appropriate antibodies.
 
In the trial, the research team produced six distinct DNA plasmids – or DNA vaccines, with an antigen – a spike protein, of the SARS-CoV-2. The theory behind the process was to trigger an immune response and study the antibodies produced as a result.
 
Researchers injected different variations of the plasmids in 35 monkeys – rhesus macaques. They were further infected with coronavirus o see which iteration produced the optimal results. Results showed that one of the six – the one with the complete encoding of the spike protein – was significantly more effective than the rest.
 
Numerous blood tests showed that despite the symptoms, that matched those of the coronavirus, the monkeys did develop numerous new antibodies that were not present before. When studied in detail, the immune response proved to be similar to that of the human coronavirus patients who have recovered.
 
 
The study also showed that unvaccinated monkeys had more virus molecules in their system as compared to the vaccinated ones – hinting towards a more active immune response in the latter.

Conclusion

Researchers have not carried out the trail on humans; however, they believe that it can prove to be a vital step towards finding a cure. Using DNA vaccines that encode the full sequence of the spike protein might trigger a similar response in the human counterparts as well.
 
However, this was just a basic level trial. It requires further research to see if the results were not accidental. Moreover, durability of the vaccine and effectiveness of the antibodies is still not confirmed and hence, needs more testing.
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Cannabis

FDA Approves Private Production of Medical Cannabis

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The Food and Drug Administration just announced that it is preparing a bill to remove the 5-year ban from private production of medical cannabis in Thailand.

The last decade has seen several reforms in favor of legalization of cannabis. A number of U.S states have voted in the favor of the movement. However, the coronavirus crisis has halted several processes. World’s economy has crashed, and numerous corporations and businesses are being shut down.

This gave rise to a wave of cannabis legalization, particularly in the United States. The main idea was to improve revenue from the cannabis industry. However, no definitive results have been seen yet. Due to limited communication and movement, the sales have reduced, and hence, no effect has been seen on the economy so far.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it is planning on removing the 5-year ban from private production of medicinal cannabis in Thailand. A draft of the bill is currently being prepared.

Also read: Cannabis Might Be The Cure For COVID-19

Further, two ministerial regulations drafts for marijuana and hemp, are also “inching ahead”, as the lockdown restrictions are easing down. The legislation would allow foreigners to get involved in companies as long as they hold less than one third of the shares.

Further, international travelers would also be able to apply for cannabis import and export licenses. This would allow for easy movement of cannabis medications in and out of the countries.

Current Law

Currently, only state agencies, government related farmers and private universities have the license for export and import of cannabis. Non-state agencies are not eligible for the license.

The ban also exempts companies from applying for a license to grow cannabis or even manufacture its medicine. The ban was announced in February 2019 and was meant to last for 5 years, till February 2024.

Even though, the main idea behind the ban was to prevent people from exploiting the drug, it has led to shortages of several CBD medicines in the market. Patients who need CBD oil for their treatment have no access either.

Source: CNBC.com

New Reform

FDA has announced to lift the ban. However, it is only applicable on the production of cannabis for herbal or Thai traditional medicine. The modern and advanced CBD pharmaceutical companies are still banned from the production.

Also read: 3000 Cannabis Plants Seized At Lake Elsinore Residencies

The new law would allow companies to apply for a cannabis and hemp growing license directly. It will also allow them to industrially manufacture CBD oil. This can then be used for medicinal purposes. However, the license would only be granted if the products fall in herbal goods or traditional medicine category.

Imports of cannabis will remain restricted. Only seeds will be allowed to be imported from overseas to grow cannabis and hemp plants in the country. Foreign travelers will remain unaffected. They will be allowed to carry CBD oil after receiving a license.

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Featured

Is the Coronavirus Treating Drug Running Out?

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Dexamethasone Running Out

Recently, a study revealed the utility of Dexamethasone in treating the Coronavirus patients. It reduced the risk of deaths of COVID-19 patients by one-third. Practitioners took to this drug to save the lives of their patients. However, with its increased demand another question has raised. Is Dexamethasone running out of markets?

COVID-19 started in Wuhan, a province of China. Slowly, it made its way across the seas and became a pandemic. The gravity of situation increased and the death toll reached to hundreds of thousands. The number of cases per day went as high as 180,000. While a few countries were successful in containing the virus, others got hit badly. The U.S. has faced 2,364,840 cases and 122,318 deaths till now.

Effectiveness of the Drug

Governments around the world enforced lockdowns. However, these lockdowns badly affected the economy. Lockdowns also led to starvation of the daily-wagers. In these difficult times, a study revealed that Dexamethasone, an abundant and cheap corticosteroid is very useful in treating Coronavirus patients.

Also Read: Knesset Finally Passes a Bill to Legalize Cannabis

Dexamethasone reduces the risk of death by one third for patients who are on ventilators. It reduces the risk of death by one fifth for the patients who are receiving supplemental oxygen. Dexamethasone is a very cheap and readily available steroid. Therefore, it seemed to be a ray of hope for people all over the world.

Is Dexamethasone Running Out?

With its proved utility in saving the COVID-19 patients, its demand increased exponentially. However, the number of Coronavirus patients mounts to millions all over the world. It is quite a possibility that Dexamethasone is running out of the markets. Some people have even started hoarding the supplies of dexamethasone. People are hoarding anything that slightly proves useful in treating the virus. Many people are involved in black marketing of supplies.

Image Credits: statnews.com

Some experts say that it is too early to say anything about global shortage. Others are certain that this situation will lead to global shortage. Two types of the drugs are available in the market. The injectable Dexamethasone is the preferred formulation for medication. However, it is more difficult to produce than the oral dexamethasone.

Working of the Drug

Out of all the patients that received the medication, mostly the effects were trivial and unnoticeable. However, for the sickest patients especially those on ventilators, the drug is a major life-saver. The intravenous medicine is in shortage in the U.S. and they are largely dependent on the oral medicine.

Also Read: Doctor Accidentally Given Coronavirus to 100 People

The Coronavirus triggers inflammation while your body tries to fight it off and this drug calms this effect. It calms the immune system and the stimulus triggering inflammation. However, some practitioners say that this can weaken the immune system. This hampers their ability to fight common viruses like H1N1 and influenza.

Dexamethasone is supplied by two major Indian companies, Wockhardt and Cadila Healthcare. Wockhardt has a “very limited” supply available for export, but is working to produce “enormous capacity” of both oral and intravenous dexamethasone.

Although we are not sure when we might run out of Dexamethasone or if we ever will but there is still a risk of it. The only sure way to eliminate the novel COVID-19 is by complete social distancing.

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Health

Doctor Accidentally Gives Coronavirus to 100 People

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A British doctor might have unknowingly given coronavirus to hundreds of patients. He was infected several months ago, however, due to lack of symptoms, was never diagnosed.

Current Situation

Coronavirus epidemic has been on the rise, particularly since January. It has spread to over 100 countries and has infected millions of people. Despite the precautionary measures, the transmission rate seems to be increasing. Thousands of new cases emerge every day across the globe.

Governments have pushed nations into lockdown. This is an attempt to control the spread of the virus. Public gatherings have been limited and wearing a face mask has become a compulsion. However, the virus still seems to be following its natural course.

Majority of the people are confined inside their homes to prevent any human contact. The only physical contact they are comfortable with is with the doctors. However, a British doctor has broken that stereotype, by giving coronavirus to his patients.

Also read: Coronavirus Update: Australia Extends the State of Emergency

Coronavirus Transmission

Max is a doctor of psychiatry who works with patients after their surgeries. Several months ago, he contracted the virus. Max lost his sense of smell and taste completely. However, since these symptoms were not defined before, he thought it was something else.

Max showed no symptoms of cough or temperature either. He said that he followed the rules and went to work. Since he did not show any symptoms, he did not opt for a diagnostic test.

The 27 years old recently took an antibody test that showed large amounts of antibodies in his system. This was indicative of a coronavirus infection. Max had, by then, checked over a hundred patients, and quite possibly transmitted the virus to them.

He said, “It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just what happens when there’s a new disease that we don’t know enough about – we still don’t know enough about it”.

Source: The Guardian

Max further added that he felt guilty for treating the patients. He said that he was taking rounds, thinking he was coronavirus free. When, in fact, he was actually a walking cluster of the virus.

Max was a psychiatric doctor, hence, most of his work required him to be in the intensive care unit. He provided counselling and mental health support to patients who had been though major surgeries. However, the contact made them more prone to the infection.

He talked about his symptoms saying that he completely lost his senses of smell and taste. He could not even smell coffee or taste anything – even vinegar. Max further stated that strict implementation of rules, including wearing masks and gloves around the patients could have easily prevented the transmission.

Also read: COVID-19: Are Pregnant Women and Unborn Babies at Higher Risk?

Possible Solution

Using “personal protective equipment” and establishing a 3 feet distance rule can come in handy in controlling the spread of the virus. The main cause of its transmission is physical contact. Therefore, refraining from it can significantly slow down the transmission rates.

Source: Financial Times

Max and the hospital might get sued by the patients due to their negligence. Hospitals, particularly ICUs, are supposed to be safe havens, free from any kind of viruses. However, contracting a deadly virus, like COVID19, is definitely a cause of great concern. No decision has been announced made yet.

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