how is the treatment being studied in Spain to stop the contagion of Covid

How to stop the contagion caused by Sars-Cov-2, the virus that has already infected almost eight million people in Spain and generated more than 313 million cases in the world, continues to reveal to scientists.

In search of a possible response to stop the spread of Covid in this third year of the pandemic, a private hospital in Navarra, in Spain, launched a clinical trial which aims to minimize the transmission of the coronavirus.

“The main objective is to apply a photodynamic therapy on the nasopharyngeal mucosa, which is the main reservoir of the coronavirus and is where it replicates, with the idea of ​​reducing the viral load early and that those people who have tested positive do not have the ability to contagion ”, he explains to Clarion Alejandro Fernández-Montero, specialist in Occupational Medicine at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra and co-investigator of the clinical trial carried out by this medical center.

“We are the only clinic in the world that is evaluating whether photodynamic therapy, which is already used to treat skin lesions and some types of tumors, is capable of eradicating Covid,” adds Fernández-Montero.

Clinical trial in Spain. Photo: Courtesy of the University of Navarra Clinic

The procedure

The treatment, which does not hurt and is based on what is called “nasal photo disinfection”, consists of applying a photosensitizing drug and another antiseptic on the mucosa of an infected patient through a device designed by a Canadian company, Ondine Biomedical Inc.

“We apply a beam of light with a certain wavelength that will generate toxic oxygen that kills bacteria, fungi and eliminates viruses,” says the doctor who has already recruited more than 30 candidates with a certain profile: they must have tested positive before a PCR diagnostic test, having a high viral load and being asymptomatic or passing through the infection with mild symptoms.

“We measure the viral load of our patient before the treatment, at the moment of finishing it, at a week and at 14 days. Is a local treatment which consists of three days of applications that last between 12 and 15 minutes per day “, he details.

“Systemic effects are rare but can produce local sensations of heat or burning in the throat or nose that disappear in minutes,” he adds.

The clinical trial began on December 20. “The purpose is to reach 100 patients and thus have a sufficient sample to be able to compare it against the placebo group made up of the people in whom we simulate the treatment,” says the expert.

Double objective

The study has a second objective: “Our hypothesis is that, if we try to reduce this viral load of the coronavirus early, the symptoms can also end early or prevent the appearance of a serious Covid”, predicts Fernández-Montero.

The trial of the University of Navarra Clinic does not contemplate evaluating the behavior of the Delta and Ómicron variants -the different strains of the coronavirus that are circulating with the greatest force-, the specialist admits that they represent “a window of opportunity for observation to be able to analyze if there are a type of strain or variant that is more or less resistant to treatment ”.

Lines in front of a health center in Madrid to take the Covid test. Photo: AP Lines in front of a health center in Madrid to take the Covid test. Photo: AP

“A priori, the toxic oxygen generated by the applied drug does not make us think that a Delta variant or an Omicron variant is more or less resistant. The difference may fall where the variant is replicated with the greatest amount, ”says Fernández-Montero.

In the last 24 hours, Spain added another daily record of Covid infections since the start of the pandemic: 179,125 new positives for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, from the Ministry of Health, Minister Carolina Darias postulates that, once the sixth wave of infections affecting Spaniards is over, “we have to begin to assess moving from emergency surveillance to sustained surveillance,” he says. Darias.

The minister thus refers to treating the coronavirus “as an endemic”, a flu, a consideration that, for the World Health Organization, is still premature.

By Editor