Two recent studies have again shown the value of using animals to find treatments and protection against Covid-19.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge, UK, together with EARA member the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité, Germany, have found that a common drug used to treat liver disease can be repurposed to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, or reduce the severity of Covid-19.
The study used organoids, hamsters and healthy volunteers to show that the drug can prevent the virus from entering cells, and should offer protection against Covid-19 variants.
If this is confirmed in clinical trials, the drug will be valuable protection for people who do not respond well to vaccines or at a higher risk of infection.
Other team members included the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, and Newcastle University, Liverpool University and Adenbrooke’s Hospital, all UK.
Meanwhile, a US research team, led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, and the University of California, Davis, showed that an experimental Covid-19 vaccine could protect infant macaque monkeys against severe disease a year after they were vaccinated.
Science reported that the two-dose vaccine contains a substance that enhances the immune response to shield the animals from lung disease.
Dr Koen Van Rompay at UC Davis said: “This study emphasises the need to get human infants immunised against SARS-CoV-2 as much as possible, as the benefits are clear and long-lasting. It also highlights the value of animal models in infectious disease research."