Latin America continues to move its R&D machinery against COVID-19



Latin American research institutions keep joining the global search for vaccines and treatments against COVID-19. The Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), which belongs to Cuba’s state-owned pharmaceutical company BioCubaFarma, has designed a vaccine and is developing it in partnership with China’s Research and Development Center in the Industrial Zone of Yongzhou, Hunan. Similarly, Chile's Millennium Institute on Immunology and Immunotherapy (IMII) is set to produce a vaccine candidate in two months and to market it within one-and-a-half years. Brazil’s University of São Paulo (USP) earlier this month announced its own vaccine development project.

Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) is enrolling patients for a clinical trial (CT) evaluating its peptide extract Transferon on non-severe patients in the initial stages of COVID-19. The project expects to recruit hundreds of volunteers.

Argentina’s National University of Tucumán (UNT) is preparing a hydroxychloroquine CT on COVID-19, while four Brazil health institutions have partnered with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to evaluate hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and dexamethasone against mild, severe, and critical COVID-19 in 1,354 patients, with results expected in 60 to 90 days. Local drug maker EMS will participate supplying hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

Meanwhile, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) has completed the first sequence of SARS-CoV-2 in Brazil’s northern region, finding 9 mutations compared to a sample from Wuhan, China. The team will now investigate whether these variations determine the severity of COVID-19 cases.

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