In 2022, an immunologist believes that a “solution” to the pandemic will be available that is “more effective than the vaccine.”
A LONG-TERM solution to the coronavirus pandemic will require a “more effective” defense in addition to vaccines, according to a leading immunologist, who hopes to see it this year.
According to David Katz, emeritus professor of immunopathology at UCL, an antiviral that inhibits COVID-19’s ability to replicate within a person is required.
While vaccination was important, he said, a viral inhibitor would stop the virus from spreading in close environments like care homes and large households.
It would also mean that the immunosuppressed – people with a weakened immune system – would have a lower risk of contracting a serious illness from the virus.
Professor Katz proposed that a protease inhibitor, similar to PrEP, which protects against HIV infections, could be used to prevent coronavirus from replicating within the body of an infected person.
“You need a virus-specific inhibitor that targets the enzymes that this virus uses to replicate,” he said.
Paxlovid, a Pfizer-developed antiviral that “works by inhibiting a protease required for virus replication,” was approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last week, following the approval of another antiviral in November.
Professor Katz believes that an inhibitor that prevents the virus’s enzymes from replicating will be “really a solution.”
“At the end of the day, that kind of inhibitor is going to be much more effective than the vaccine,” he added.
“Immunization must go with the viral inhibitor,” Professor Katz cautioned.
“Immunization is important, but it must be combined with viral protease inhibitors, which I believe are on the way.”
He believes that care homes would be a “good place” to test these antivirals because it would prevent Covid-positive caregivers and residents from infecting the elderly, who would be more vulnerable to the virus.
“As a result, your spread will be limited within the confines of the care home,” he said.
“And [in]the closed context of multi-generational families, the same thing applies: you test people, they test positive, you give the rest of the family a viral inhibitor, they don’t test positive, and you can quickly release them from any minimal isolation period.”
“Obviously, it’s a more sensible approach.”
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