Some good news in the fight against the Chinese coronavirus in the past week has flown under the radar.
Pharmacists in the United States and scientists in the United Arab Emirates have made significant breakthroughs in the fight against the pandemic in the past week.
On Friday, the United Arab Emirates announced a breakthrough in the battle against the novel pathogen. A team of doctors and researchers at Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center have developed a novel stem cell treatment for those made ill from the disease.
President Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces all offered congratulations to the Emirati researchers.
Dubai, one of the constituent emirates within the UAE, has started to ease some of its social distancing measures.
So far, the stem-cell based coronavirus treatment has been applied to some 73 patients, each of whom has gone on to recover without any apparent side effects. Trials of the procedure are ongoing, and the treatment has yet to be replicated outside the oil-rich Arab Gulf State and critical American ally in the Middle East.
Stem cells are extracted from a patient's blood and reintroduced after being "activated" and nebulized into a fine mist. The treatment is then inhaled in to the lungs of the patient – one of the primary areas that the novel coronavirus attacks.
The revelation comes as the UAE's Ministry of Economy declared it had granted a patent to the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center for the development of the treatment. The patients treated with stem cells also received other treatments typically usually applied to treat the disease.
The UAE has seen 13,038 cases along with 2,543 recoveries and some 111 deaths. Some 26,000 tests for the virus have been conducted, which is also referred to as the Wuhan Flu over its apparent origin in that Chinese city in late 2019.
Globally there appear to be new tools being developed for the treatment of the pandemic.
On Friday, U.S. regulators with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of an experimental drug known as Remdesivir under the terms of the FDA's Emergency use authorization. Remdesivir appears to allow patients to recover faster from the COVID-19 illness. The drug was developed by the California Bay Area company Gilead Sciences and has been touted by the administration before. All 1.5 million doses will be made freely available.
President Donald Trump announced the emergency approval of the drug in a joint announcement with Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs Administration at the White House on Friday. The announcement comes as some states most notably Florida have started to roll back restrictions put on the public.
These developments are promising news in the absence of a proven and widely available cure or vaccine. Measures to stop the disease's spread, such as social distancing and other preventative measures, are likely to continue in order to decrease the impact of the disease.
There is also more welcome news, as a trial vaccine in Oxford University administered to monkeys has shown success. The same team has repeatedly claimed that a million doses of the vaccine will be available by September.
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