Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Interesting Interview Explaining Possible Antibody Treatments For Covid19

I found an interesting interview with Jacob Glanville on Radio New Zealand. Glanville is a scientist who appeared on the Netflix documentary Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. He also has a company, Distributed Bio, which is one of several groups that's working on an antibody therapy for Covid19.

The good news is that antibody therapy would work very quickly and would be very effective.

The bad news is that this would only be available, at earliest, by September.

The mixed news is that you could always recontract the virus and require the therapy again. The antibodies would give you immunity for 8-10 weeks, whereas a vaccine would provide immunity for a year or even more.

I've embedded the Youtube of the interview. Again, good news, bad news.

The good is that Glanville, while he speaks quickly, is extremely articulate and provides excellent, succinct explanations. In particular, he explains the relationship of SARS-Classic to this "novel" version of SARS, and how that helps researchers--there's a lot that's already known about SARS-Classic that applies to SARS-CoV-2 as well.

The less good, or bad, is that the interviewer has a New Zealand accent. I find weird and distracting--YMMV. Here's the video of the interview, which is a bit over 13 minutes long:

My view is that this is great and important research, but that the greatest promise lies in therapies like Chloroquine+, a treatment program that would extremely inexpensive and is widely available right now. However, there may be situations in which the antibody therapy could be preferable, such as for patients who don't tolerate chloroquine well. It would also be useful for treating medical personnel who got infected, allowing them to stay on the job. Note, of course, that knowledge of the antiviral potential of chloroquine arose out of research stemming from the SARS epidemic (2003), just as does the antibody research.

Now here's a partial transcript (fuller version here):

"I'm happy to report that my team has successfully taken five antibodies that back in 2002 were determined to bind and neutralise, block and stop the SARS virus." 

"We've evolved them in our laboratory, so now they very vigorously block and stop the SARS-CoV-2 [Covid-19] virus as well."

"This makes them suitable medicines that one could use once they've gone through human testing to treat the virus."

"The new virus is a cousin of the old SARS. So what we've done is we've created hundreds of millions of versions of those antibodies, we've mutated them a bit, and in that pool of mutated versions, we found versions that cross them over."

"So now we know they bind on the same spot as the new virus, Covid-19."

"It binds the spot that the virus uses to gain entry into your cells. It blocks that."

"At this point we know it binds the same spot extremely tightly with high affinity. The next step is we send the antibodies to the military, and they will directly put those on the virus and show that it blocks its ability to infect cells."

"The other nice thing about it is you want the stamp of approval of a government military to independently test your work. This is one of the foundations of good science.

"Antibodies are attractive because you can give them to a patient right when they're in the hospital like an antiviral. You can also give them to doctors, you could give them to the elderly people to prevent them from getting sick."

"Part of the reason we think we're moving pretty fast is that instead of starting from scratch discovering an antibody, we went to these existing antibodies that were already extremely well characterised against SARS. And we've adapted them. So we're piggybacking on two years of research."

"It's sort of like a short-term vaccine, except it works immediately."

"A vaccine could take six to eight weeks to take effect, where this will take effect within 20 minutes. You could give it to a patient who's sick, experiencing Covid-19, then within 20 minutes of receiving the shot, their body is flooded with those antibodies.

"Those antibodies will surround and stick all over a virus and make it so it's no longer infectious."


"Assuming that we're able to complete our study, at the end of summer… and it looks good, then we would use something called compassionate use."

"This is was used in the Ebola crisis. And it's been used in other cases where if you have something that's effective, and there's no other good medicine, you can begin releasing it to the world for use prior to going through all the approval process."

"That could be as early as September. Unfortunately, that's also as far away as September.

"So that's as fast as we can conceive of having this medicine widely available."


  1. DARPA is working on something similar.

    So is John Hopkins.

  2. Italy is doing the quinine treatment, and it seems to be helping. I’m not sure if they were late to start, the headline may be click bait:

    Spain is not per this interview, since unproven:

    Philippines is in lockdown, as is Kenya

    My theory is the country ruling class / elites is getting hit hardest, due to foreign travel contact and ac. Just as in the US, New York is hardest hit, so the US media class is in full panic.

    I’m surprised at the lockdowns in India, Kenya, and Philippines. I would have expected higher temperatures to have a huge impact, but I may be missing something.

    A huge issue is lack of testing.

    1. "My theory is the country ruling class / elites is getting hit hardest, due to foreign travel contact and ac. Just as in the US, New York is hardest hit, so the US media class is in full panic."

      Read my latest.

    2. No doubt elites are probably getting hit for the reasons you cite, but ...