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Vaccines showing promise - but is cholesterol drug the key?

Thursday July 16th 2020

The UK's Oxford vaccine project is showing promising results in its early stages of human testing, it was reported today.

Unnamed sources have told journalists that the vaccine has successfully stimulated the expected immune system response in its phase 1 trials.

A US company, Moderna, announced similar early results from its trials of an RNA vaccine yesterday.

All the trials will have to prove that the initial immune response has staying power following some research suggesting that very few people maintain antibody protection after infection.

Professor Eleanor Riley, from Edinburgh University, told The Times: "It is good to see it. The key question is, do these responses protect? Protection is not a given. We need to wait and see.”

* The cholesterol-lowering drug Fenofibrate could prove a powerful treatment against the virus, according to Israeli researchers.

The scientists believe the drug can effectively treat illness of the lungs, preventing the virus from reproducing. According to their research, the virus prevents the burning of carbohydrates inside the cells of the lungs, leading to accumulation of lipids.

Researcher Professor Yaakov Nahmias, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said: “If our findings are borne out by clinical studies, this course of treatment could potentially downgrade COVID-19’s severity into nothing worse than a common cold.”

* A European study has confirmed reports that obesity is strongly linked to the severity of COVID-19 illness.

The Italian research is published today in the European Journal of Endocrinology and involved analysis of outcomes for nearly 500 patients.

Dr Matteo Rottoli, from the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna in Italy, said: "Our study showed that any grade of obesity is associated with severe COVID-19 illness and suggests that people with mild obesity should also be identified as a population at risk.

"Our hypothesis is that Sars-CoV-2 infection outcomes depend on the metabolic profile of patients and that obesity, interlaced with diabetes and metabolic syndrome are involved too."

Nahmias et al. The SARS-CoV-2 Transcriptional Metabolic Signature in Lung Epithelium. Available at SSRN:

Rottoli et al. How important is obesity as a risk factor for respiratory failure, intensive care admission and death in hospitalised COVID-19 patients? European Journal of Endocrinology 16 July 2020

Tags: Asia | Diet & Food | Europe | Flu & Viruses | North America | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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