Virologist Discusses Latest COVID-19 Therapeutics, Vaccines

Virologist Discusses Latest COVID-19 Therapeutics, Vaccines

Sarah Crawford

Sarah Crawford, a professor of biology who has an expertise in virology, recently had an article published regarding the latest developments with vaccines and therapeutics in the journal, “Medical Research Archives.” The piece is titled, “Defeating the COVID-19 Pandemic by Targeting the Critical Interface between SARS-CoV-2 Virus Infection and Its Destructive Immune System Effects.”

Crawford discusses why younger people are at lower risk for severe reactions to COVID-19 infections; the role of interferon — both natural and in drug form — and of hydroxychloroquine on the disease; the keys to effective therapeutics; and whether it is possible to prevent the “cytokine storm,” the cascade of reactions causing serious complications in the second week after an infection begins.

She also addresses the topic of whether previous exposure to other coronaviruses can generate immunity.

And Crawford’s article points out that previous vaccines for SARS and other coronaviruses showed serious after effects in some patients in clinical trials. “We are beginning to see that now with the new vaccines,” she said.

After having her paper published, she was interviewed on Channel 3 (WFSB) and on WTIC radio (1080 AM).

The following is a question-and-answer with Crawford that offers a summary of the highlights of the article:

*Why are younger people at lower risk for severe reactions to COVID infections?

I believe one of the reasons is that people 50 years and older tend to produce less interferon than younger folks. Interferon inhibits the reproduction of the virus in the early stages.

*Can interferon as a drug help those who don’t produce enough of it naturally?

Studies have shown that it does help. But it has a wide range of effects in drug form, and the pros and cons would have to be weighed.

*Are there other reasons for young people having much milder symptoms?

This may be related to the various vaccines given to children. There is evidence to suggest they create a broad enhancement of the immune system during a person’s youth. This seems especially linked to a type of tuberculosis vaccine.

*What are keys to effective therapeutics?

The most effective therapeutics attack the spike attachment protein, replication of the RNA genome, and assembly of virus particles in infected cells.

*Is it possible to prevent the “cytokine storm,” the chain reaction in the body that spurs inflammation and sometimes blood clots and other complications, in a person who already has been infected?

Drugs, such as Remdesivir and Favipiravir decrease the duration of the disease, and seem to have the greatest effect in limiting the cytokine storm if given early in the infection. Dexamethasone, a glucosteroid, has been shown to decrease mortality rates.

*What about hydroxychloroquine? Is this an effective treatment or not?

There is conflicting evidence. But a study in Henry Ford Hospital included 2,500 patients in which there was a significant reduction in mortality rates when used by itself or with the antibiotic azithromycin, compared with those who used neither. This contradicted an earlier Oxford study.

*Can previous exposure to other coronaviruses generate some immunity from COVID-19?

Other coronavirus may produce long-lasting cross-reactive immune system responses.