Evaluation of IM/Q610/419-01A-18

In late 2019 several individuals were hospitalized in Wuhan in China with what appeared to be cases of severe respiratory illnesses (Kannan et al., 2020).  

The disease was called the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the etiological agent was the coronavirus2 or SARS-CoV-2 (Nie et al., 2020; van Doremalen et al., 2020). One of the main routes of transmission of this virus is through contaminated aerosols resulting from coughing or sneezing for example (Kannan et al., 2020). The virus incubation time in an infected individual is 2 to 14 days. However, even asymptomatic infected people can effectively spread SARS-CoV-2. Most COVID-19 cases or 80% is either asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms.  

However, 20% of all those infected will develop severe illness with the mortality rate standing at about 2% across the globe. So far globally there are over 189 million individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 and nearly 4.05 million deaths. Early 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. COVID-19 has affected millions of people and caused many deaths in the world, most developed and industrialized countries; as well as taking many economies into recessions or at the brink of collapse.  

Since the start of the pandemic, scientists around the world investigated vaccines that can be used to prevent the spread of the virus. Late 2020 and early 2021, several vaccines were approved, namely, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to name a few, which are currently being administered around the world as a way of controlling the virus. Currently, the only effective treatment of COVID-19 employed is focused on alleviating symptoms and there is no drug or agent available that can be used to help infected individuals clear the virus. There are a number of clinical trials ongoing around the world to find an effective drug against this virus with only one in the United States yielding promising results so far.  

This trial showed that remdesivir (Grein et al., 2020), commonly used to treat Ebola infection, has the ability to shorten COVID-19 patients’ recovery time from 15 to 11 days. Furthermore, earlier during the pandemic hydroxychloroquine was also reported to have efficacy for COVID-19 treatment. However, recent WHO trials carried out in 30 different countries around the world showed that these two drugs have no effect against COVID-19.. It is in this context that Silverlab Healthcare contacted the CSIR with IM/Q610/419-01A-18 for evaluation against SARS-CoV-2. The virus used in the evaluation was generated in 293-T cells by co-transfection of a construct carrying the SARS-CoV-2 envelope and a plasmid encoding the luciferase reporter gene. This was followed by the determination of the virus tissue culture infectious dose 50 (TCID50) before treatment with IM/Q610/419-01A-18.