Omicron BA.4/5 Subvariants Are More Contagious And More Treatment-Resistant, But This Biopharma Reports Working On A Potential Breakthrough

Over the two years since COVID-19 first appeared, people everywhere are becoming less vigilant perhaps simply because they are exhausted. Governments also are easing up on social distancing and mask mandates as they try to regain a sense of normalcy and stability.

Meanwhile, the virus has been evolving, becoming more contagious with each new variant. With a virus becoming more contagious at the same time that people are too exhausted to keep up with masking and social distancing; that’s a recipe for rapid spread. When the omicron variant emerged last November, that’s exactly what public health officials started seeing.

The omicron variant spread faster than any previous variant and now, with the appearance of BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants this summer, it’s becoming even more contagious. Fortunately, biotechs and pharmaceutical companies haven’t stopped researching new ways to fight the virus — and NanoViricides Inc. NNVC says it may have found a variant-proof antiviral that can help. 

Omicron BA.4 And BA.5 Variants Are More Contagious, Less Deadly

There is a small silver lining to the emergence of omicron. The new variants show that COVID-19 is following the path that most viruses take — evolving to become more contagious but less deadly. While cases have been spiking at a record-breaking pace, hospitalizations and death from the virus have been declining

That doesn’t make it harmless enough to ignore, though. Because it spreads so easily, that increases the odds that the virus will reach the roughly 16 million adults and 1.9 million children across the United States who are living with a weakened immune system — and those millions of Americans are still at risk of suffering severe complications and death at the hands of new variants.

Even for those whose immune systems are strong enough to survive COVID, about 10% will develop persistent symptoms now known as long COVID. Long COVID usually takes the form of chronic fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and symptoms that get worse after mental or physical effort. 

Some patients also experience neurological issues like sleep problems, difficulty thinking or concentrating or frequent headaches. These symptoms can last anywhere from weeks to years.

Existing Vaccines And Treatments May Not Be Enough To Tame The New Variants

While the latest omicron subvariants are showing signs of being less deadly, what scientists are worried about is how resistant they are to existing vaccines and treatments. So far, the data shows that BA.4 and BA.5 are both able to evade elimination by the antibodies produced by the vaccines and by infection — meaning you can still get sick even if you are vaccinated or have already gotten COVID and recovered.

Once infected, a study published in Nature this month found that it not only evaded vaccines, it also resisted almost every one of the 19 monoclonal antibody treatments on the market. The only one to still show some residual efficacy was Eli Lilly and Co.’s LLY intravenous bebtelovimab. 

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved the bebtelovimab treatment for patients who are at high risk of hospitalization or death from COVID because the treatment is still new and may still carry unexpected side effects.

Meanwhile, Paxlovid — the antiviral pill from Pfizer Inc. PFE that was approved by the FDA last December — doesn’t seem to be as effective anymore as it gains wide usage. While it still reduces the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk patients, the pharmaceutical giant suspended a recent trial of standard-risk patients after early data showed that Paxlovid made no statistically significant difference in outcomes. 

NanoViricides Technology Might Offer Variant-Proof Protection

Unfortunately, this loss of efficacy is a common fate of vaccines and antiviral treatments. As viruses evolve, they develop mutations that help them escape existing treatments so scientists are locked in a never-ending arms race to develop new vaccines and treatments targeting these mutations. 

That’s why NanoViricides has devoted its research to developing antiviral technology that reportedly can’t be evaded through mutation. To do that, the Company has created the NanoViricides platform that it says can be quickly adapted to target just about any virus and is designed to keep working even as that virus mutates into new variants.

It works by mimicking the binding site of a cell to trick the virus into attaching to the antiviral. Once attached, the NanoViricides therapy engulfs the virus and renders it incapable of reproducing or infecting the patient’s own cells. Because a virus’s binding site doesn’t change even after multiple mutations, the technology is still able to lure the virus even as new variants emerge.

Though still in the preclinical stage, early data shows positive signs that this technology could become a breakthrough variant-proof antiviral doctors need to finally gain the upper hand against COVID. 

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be investing advice.

Featured image by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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