The Costa Rican medical authorities began to apply a serum based on equine antibodies to patients with COVID-19, as part of a clinical trial that aims to determine the effectiveness of this drug developed in the country.
The drug was developed by the Clodomiro Picado Institute of the state University of Costa Rica and was tested in a specialized laboratory at George Mason University, in the United States, where virologists verified that the formulation is capable of neutralizing the SARS-coronavirus. CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
The tests in efferms
The next phase of the process is the clinical trial that began this Monday with 4 patients out of a total of 26 who will receive the treatment and who must sign an informed consent.
The trial will be carried out at the public hospitals San Juan de Dios, Mexico, Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia and the Center for Specialized Attention for COVID-19 Patients (CEACO), all in San José, and where the hospitalization of patients with the virus.
The Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), which administers the Public hospitals, expects to have the most patients for this trial within a week.
Avoid serious sequelae
“We are not going to avoid hospitalizations because this is not an outpatient treatment. It will be applied to patients who have just been admitted to the hospital to try slow down the evolution of the aftermath by the virus so that they do not reach the intensive care units “, declared the president of the CCSS, Román Macaya.
Macaya commented that if the treatment is effective it could lower mortality and decrease the percentage of patients admitted to intensive care.
The scientific procedure
The Clodomiro Picado Institute developed two equine antibody formulations: one attacks a specific protein of the virus that is responsible for infect human cells and that it is replicated; while the other attacks other proteins of the virus.
The process began five months ago when scientists carried out a group of horses immunizations with combinations of coronavirus proteins, which do not harm the health of these animals.
The scientists then measured the amount of antibodies against viral proteins using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and finally extracted between 8 and 9 liters of plasma from each horse, for a total of close to 50 liters.
This plasma was the one that was processed to obtain the first batches of the formulations, which were tested by virologists from the American University George Mason.
The pandemic advances
The Clodomiro Picado Institute, whose specialty is the manufacture of snake antivenoms, also developed a plasma-based serum from patients recovered from COVID-19, but whose production is subject to donating blood.
The Costa Rican authorities registered 833 new cases of COVID-19 this Monday to reach a total of 48,780 in the six months that go into the pandemic. The official figures show 19,083 people recovered and 510 deaths, but in the last day they counted 19 deaths of patients with COVID-19, the highest daily figure in the country during the pandemic.