As countries like the US continue racing to inject their populations with the coronavirus vaccine as fast as they can, in an effort to outpace the spread of more transmissible COVID-19 variants, it should come as no surprise that work is also ongoing behind the scenes toward the development of other effective coronavirus treatments and therapies. And Italy has emerged as a particular hub of this kind of work, as a complement to the now more than 306 million coronavirus vaccine shots that have been administered across 115 countries, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
While drug makers like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have been among those who’ve swiftly won emergency use authorization in countries including the US for their COVID vaccines, Italy is doing its part in service of a parallel fight, with a robust pharmaceutical hub in the country that was created more than 100 years ago now being marshaled to fight a virus that’s killed almost 99,000 in the country.
Italy’s research hub is centered around the city of Siena in Tuscany, which is where, among other things, an antidote for anthrax was discovered. GlaxoSmithKline also produces meningitis shots there, and this is where, according to a new Bloomberg report, the Toscana Life Sciences Foundation has been working on a potentially breakthrough COVID-19 antibody treatment that developers say may end up being 80 times stronger than the antibody treatment given to President Trump late last year during his bout with COVID-19.
What we know so far: This treatment has been developed from the blood of people who recovered from the coronavirus and is envisioned as a single-shot treatment. Compare that to the antibody treatment President Trump was given back in the fall, when he got an antibody infusion that took hours to complete.
Clinical trials for this new treatment have already started in Italy, and the developers are hoping it could be approved for use by the general public as soon as this summer.
According to Bloomberg’s reporting, what’s so promising about this new treatment is that early tests have shown, thanks to the “concentrated dosage and one-shot delivery,” that it seems to be pretty effective and quick to offer more COVID protection than other therapies and treatments. Efficacy data in a clinical setting is still to come, but Toscana Life Sciences Foundation president Fabrizio Landi said this therapy seems to already be particularly promising in its neutralization of the more transmissible coronavirus strains that have been multiplying in Italy.
Indeed, those new and more virulent strains of the coronavirus are spreading relentlessly throughout Italy, reportedly sending cases there to a two-month high this week. The US is also seeing this same trend play out as well, with some public health experts worried that the spread of more virulent COVID strains threatens to undo the positive signs we’ve seen lately here and send cases surging again.