Sinopharm-developed COVID-19 drugs to finish clinical study within a year
By Liu Jiaxin

Two years into the pandemic, life has seen drastic changes. The death rate of overall COVID-19 infections has reached 2 percent. And pharmaceutical companies around the world are already working on drugs to combat the virus, with some making significant progress.

Zhang Yuntao, vice-president and chief scientist of the China National Biotech Group, an affiliate company of Sinopharm, shared with CGTN the latest progress on their COVID-19 drugs.

CGTN: Sinopharm has announced the development of two COVID-19 drugs that could reduce the impact of the virus. What are they? And what are the differences between the two drugs? And most importantly, how effective are the drugs in patients with mild, moderate and severe symptoms?

Zhang: One is a COVID-19 specific immunoglobulin, which is a polyclonal antibody. It is a broad-spectrum antiviral antibody prepared from the plasma of recovered patients or of a healthy person after they've been vaccinated. The drug has been approved for clinical trials at home and abroad by the China National Food and Drug Administration and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health and Prevention, with clinical trials beginning in the UAE within one or two days.

Based on the experimental data we have so far, this drug will be most effective on patients suffering from mild to moderate symptoms.

Meanwhile, we have also developed monoclonal antibodies, which are antibodies produced in a lab. And the drug is currently being evaluated and awaiting approval. We've found these antibodies very effective in neutralizing the Delta strain currently circulating around China.

CGTN: When are the two COVID-19 drugs developed by Sinopharm expected to be on the market?

Zhang: There have been fewer cases in China, so we are conducting a clinical study of the COVID-19 specific immunoglobulin in the UAE. At present, the incidence rate in the UAE is also decreasing, and so clinical research is facing slight difficulties in proving the efficacy of this specific treatment. We hope to complete the clinical study within a year and file for clinical treatment (approval) from the Chinese authorities soon after.

CGTN: Can you brief us on some of the main courses of treatment for COVID-19?

Zhang: Globally, there are only a few ways to treat COVID-19. The first is to treat it with large molecule drugs, which include immunoglobulin and novel coronavirus-specific monoclonal antibodies launched by Sinopharm.

The other way is through small molecule drugs. Examples of these drugs are Merck's antiviral pill, which is currently on the market, and Pfizer's, which has just recently announced the results of their drug's latest clinical study results.

In the future, there will be more small and large molecule drugs developed.

In addition, traditional Chinese medicine and stem cell therapy have also played important roles in the fight against the pandemic.

CGTN: In the future, will COVID-19 be treated like the common cold we treat today?

Zhang: Indeed, future epidemic control should be more comprehensive. But the most economical way for us to protect ourselves against COVID is to get vaccinated. Now the booster shots have been approved in China and abroad. Some people are still somewhat skeptical about them. I'd say there is no doubt that vaccines are the cheapest, most-effective and safest route.

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