Blood-Sample Shortages Slow Search for Coronavirus Drug - (The Wall Street Journal via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Scientists trying to develop treatments for COVID-19 have struggled to get a hold of blood samples from recovered patients, which contain the elements needed to create new medicines, reported The Wall Street Journal.

  • Vir Biotechnology began seeking the samples early this year, but had no luck getting any from China. The company then expanded its search to other nations and just recently obtained a blood sample, more than two months after the outbreak began.

  • "We couldn't get anything out of China. That was a bottleneck for a while," says Vir CEO George Scangos, noting "it's been more slow than we would've liked."

  • Meanwhile, AbCellera Biologics received its first sample on Febbruary 25. Less than two weeks later, the company identified 500 antibodies against the virus. Last week, the company partnered with Eli Lilly to determine the most effective antibody to co-develop as a drug.

  • Several factors have limited quick access to the blood samples, researchers and public health officials  say, including challenges in transporting samples across international borders during a pandemic.

  • In addition, it could take four to eight weeks for patients to fully recover to the point where the antibodies can be helpful to drug researchers, the news source noted.

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