The Wuhan Institute of Virology's vital role in fighting COVID-19

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Science and Technology Daily, May 14, 2020
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The WIV has achieved a series of breakthroughs in terms of virus isolation and identification. It has sequenced the whole genome of the virus, isolated the virus strain, identified it as a novel coronavirus, and completed standardized virus cryopreservation. On Jan. 11, as one of the designated institutes of the National Health Commission, the WIV submitted the virus' sequence to the World Health Organization.

In terms of detecting COVID-19, the WIV has quickly organized its R&D efforts to develop nucleic acid tests and serological detection technologies. COVID-19 nucleic acid testing kits, jointly developed by the WIV and Uni-medica, are currently under emergency approval by the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA). The WIV has also worked with Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics to develop a COVID-19 serological test kit, which was approved by the NMPA on March 14 and certified for medical use. As a designated institute by Wuhan city, the WIV has participated in the task of detecting the COVID-19 pathogen. Over 6,500 throat swab samples of suspected COVID-19 cases have been tested by the WIV since Jan. 26.

The WIV has also worked with the National Engineering Research Center for Drugs of Emergency Prevention and Control of the Institute of Military Medicine under the Academy of Military Sciences to select and evaluate marketed drugs, clinical drugs and drug candidates. We found that chloroquine phosphate and favipiravir have shown fairly positive antiviral effects against the novel coronavirus at the cellular level. Other drugs have also been selected and are currently being evaluated. In the meantime, the WIV has been working with the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) of the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) to research and develop an inactivated whole virus vaccine. This vaccine was approved by the NMPA for clinical trials on April 12.

In addition, the WIV and the CNBG have also evaluated the titer levels of neutralizing antibodies in the plasma of recovering patients. We found that the antibody titers reached 1:640. After further evaluation, the organizations involved carried out clinical trials according to the relevant procedures.

As for establishing animal models, the WIV has completed COVID-19 modelling in rhesus monkeys. Evaluated by experts organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the model is considered to have been successful, and can be used to conduct research into the pathogenic mechanisms and spread of COVID-19. This provides a significant platform for evaluating vaccines and drugs for the novel coronavirus.

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