CORONAVIRUS: Professor Didier Camus, an epidemiologist at the Institut Pasteur in Lille, reviews the progress of research against the coronavirus
- Professor Didier Camus gave an update on research around the coronavirus.
- According to him, we are still very far from obtaining an effective vaccine.
- There are symptomatic treatments, but none that can kill the virus.
The researchers will eventually find it. The Institut Pasteur de Lille is particularly involved in research to combat Sras-Cov2, the coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic. Professor Daniel Camus, an epidemiologist, takes stock of the progress of this research, in particular carried out by the task force set up at Pasteur Lille.
This task force, which brings together researchers from several specialized laboratories of the Institut Pasteur de Lille, is working on several fronts against the current coronavirus. The first, of course, is the search for what scientists call vaccine targets. “When you have to fight an infectious agent, you have to erect a wall in front of it, the most important stone of which is often the vaccine,” he explains. But in this regard, the scientist remains cautious: “To date, there is no vaccine and there will not be for a long time. It’s long because you have to understand that we are working on living material. And you don’t handle infectious agents like you handle chemical molecules, ”he says.
Contracting Covid-19 does not provide immunity
Another bad news is the virtual absence of immunity from Sras-Cov2. “For the whole of France, as of May 11, we will have population immunity of the order of 6%. For this immunity to be effective, 70% of the population would have contracted the disease, “according to the epidemiologist. Another downside is that being infected with the coronavirus does not assure you of developing the antibodies that induce immunity. “In the case of the coronavirus, there are of course neutralizing antibodies, which kill the virus. We also noticed that there were facilitating antibodies, which promote the penetration of the virus into cells, ”insists Didier Camus.
However, Professor Camus explains that there are other stones constituting his famous wall against the coronavirus. “In addition to the vaccine, treatments are also important means of fighting a virus or bacteria,” he said. And treatments, there are two kinds. The “symptomatic” like using paracetamol to relieve pain. The “specific”, which will kill the infectious agent. It is on this last point that the task force is particularly mobilised.
“There is a lot of talk about tocilizumab, which helps prevent serious forms of the disease. It is a symptomatic treatment, which does not destroy the virus. For the moment, there is no specific treatment. Even the hydroxychloroquine put forward by Professor Raoult has not demonstrated its effectiveness in the early stages of the disease, ”notes the epidemiologist. However, in view of the forces mobilized, Didier Camus is optimistic about the discovery of a specific treatment “before the development of a vaccine”.