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Costa Rica readies second study of equine serum to treat Covid

February 16, 2021

With the announcement from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) that the second study of the application of equine serum in Covid-19 patients is soon to begin, the scientists in charge prepare the modifications for these new tests, among which is adjusting the dose according to the patient’s weight.

According to Alberto Alape, researcher for the Clodomiro Picado Institute of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the study involves four groups of patients who will receive different doses.

“In the first trial, a single dose was given. Some patients responded well, and in others, the medication had no effect,” Alape explained. “One interpretation of the results is that the patients were of very different characteristics; there were some of more than 150 kg and others of 60 kg, so the same dose for the patients was diluted in the patient’s mass and did not have the same result. In conclusion, for the second study, the dose will be adjusted according to the patient’s weight.”

Alape detailed that during the first trial, 13 patients received one formula and 14 another, with patients from both groups responding equally. As a result, researchers will now apply the most economical formula.

“In the first trial, there was a product directed against the [SARS-CoV-2] spicule protein, and there was another that had antibodies against both that and other viral proteins,” he said. “The question was whether only antibodies against the spicule was enough. Since no differences were detected between the two groups of patients, it was decided that the simplest product will continue, the one that has only antibodies against the spicule protein.”

The Clodomiro Picado researcher highlighted the importance of the studies themselves, since “doing clinical research in the country is not easy.”

“There had been no interventional clinical trial in the country for 15 years,” Alape said, so he considers it a success that Costa Rica is again conducting that type of research.

“Because of the publicity, I don’t know if higher expectations were created and it was expected that we would ‘stick’ the dose at once and that all the patients were going to be fine,” he said.

“From our perspective, the proposed objectives were met. Important information was obtained on the safety of the product, the conclusion was reached on which product to follow, and now we have gone from 27 to 156 patients in tests. You have to go step by step, you don’t get definitive answers on the first try.”

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A version of this story was originally published by Semanario Universidad on February 15, 2021. It was translated and republished with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report at Semanario Universidad here.

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