This antiviral drug can block Delta variant, study finds

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In a new study from the University of Nottingham, researchers found a plant-based antiviral treatment for Covid-19, is just as effective at treating all variants of the virus SARS-CoV-2, even the highly infectious Delta variant.

The struggle to control the Covid-19 pandemic is made more difficult by the continual emergence of virulent SARS-CoV-2 variants, which are either more infectious, cause more severe infection, or both.

Researchers found that the Delta variant, compared with other recent variants, showed the highest ability to multiply in cells, and was mostly able to directly spread to neighboring cells.

In co-infections with two different SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Delta variant also boosted the multiplication of its co-infected partners.

The current study showed that a novel natural antiviral drug called thapsigargin (TG) was just as effective at treating all of the newer SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Delta variant.

TG was recently discovered by the same group of scientists to block other viruses, including the original SARS-CoV-2.

In their previous studies, the team showed that the plant-derived antiviral, at small doses, triggers a highly effective broad-spectrum host-centered antiviral innate immune response against three major types of human respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

In this latest study, the team wanted to know just how effective TG was at blocking these emergent variants.

Notably, all SARS-CoV-2 variants were highly susceptible to TG treatment.

A single pre-infection priming dose of TG effectively blocked all single-variant infections and every co-infection at greater than 95% relative to controls. Likewise, TG was effective in inhibiting each variant during active infection.

The new study provides better insights into the dominance of the Delta variant.

Even though scientists have shown that this variant is clearly the most infectious and promotes the production of other variants in co-infections, this study has shown that TG is just as effective against all of them.

The study is published in Virulence. One author of the study is Professor Kin-Chow Chang.

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