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Coronavirus

New plant-based drug effective at blocking all COVID-19 variants, even Delta

Published: Updated:

A newly discovered plant-based antiviral drug has proven to be quite effective against all COVID-19 variants, even the Delta strain, scientists claim.

While the emergence of each new COVID-19 variant poses a global health concern, the Delta variant in particular has been deemed one of the most contagious strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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A single dose of thapsigargin (TG) effectively blocks all single-variant infections and every co-infection, with an effectiveness rate of over 95 percent, scientists from the University of Nottingham have reported in a new study.

They deduced that TG can largely inhibit every single COVID-19 variant.

Of the three dominant COVID-19 variants (Alpha, Beta and Delta), the Delta strain showed the highest ability to multiply in cells, and was most able to spread directly to neighboring cells at an amplification rate (withing a 24-hour period) that was four times higher than the other two variants.

Co-infections with Alpha and Delta or Alpha and Beta conferred multiplication synergy, where total new virus output was greater than the sum of corresponding single-variant infections, according to a statement released by the university on Friday.

“Our new study has given us better insights into the dominance of the Delta variant. Even though we have shown that this variant is clearly the most infectious and promotes production of other variants in co-infections, we are pleased to have shown that TG is just as effective against all of them,” lead study author Professor Kin Chow Chang said in a statement.

“Together, these results point to the antiviral potential of TG as a post-exposure prophylactic and an active therapeutic agent,” he added.

Delta seen to be the most dangerous variant yet

The new study builds off a previous one that was authored by the same team of scientists. They discovered TG and found that it could initiate a “highly effective broad-spectrum host-centered antiviral innate immune response” against an array of respiratory viruses (including SARS-CoV-2) when taken in small doses.

The latest study investigated and compared how efficiently Alpha, Beta and Delta variants were able to multiply within host cells.

The scientists concluded that the Delta variant was by far the most infectious version of the virus to date.

Their findings can be found in the journal Virulence.

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