Brazil Scientists To Tackle Coronavirus In New Research Center

Publicado em 31/07/2020
por Forbes em 14/07/2020

Brazil is one of the most hardest hit by the deadly and fast spreading new SARS coronavirus, so it makes sense that they would invest heavily in rolling it back, making sure nothing like this ever happens again.

Brazil’s new Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM) open this week to new research projects related to the study of the SARS2 coronavirus. Located in the interior Sao Paulo state city of Campinas, CNPEM is also home to Sirius, the R$1.8-billion particle accelerator, which is Brazil’s biggest and most complex scientific structure to date.

CNPEM recently decided to tackle the pandemic and over the weekend announced that scientists there had completed its first experiment: a 3D image of essential Sars-CoV-2 proteins, The Brazilian Report, a daily Brazilian news and information newsletter, reported on Monday.

Using a beamline dedicated to macromolecular crystallography, scientists analyzed the 3CL protein, which is crucial for the virus’ development. “When we can inhibit these proteins, we can interfere in the replication process,” says Daniela Trivella, research coordinator of the center’s Covid-19 research group.

According to them, the first anti-HIV drugs were developed thanks to a deeper knowledge of the virus’ essential proteins.

Some scientists are funding research themselves at CNPEM, as the government is turning down most projects due to financial constraints.

Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak is the second worst in the world after the United States. Many people have laid the blame on the government’s lackluster approach to mitigating the viral spread early on, a charge that is also laid upon the U.S.

Some 72,833 people died in Brazil due to complications caused by the Covid-19 disease. The good news is that the infection curve is now in decline. Some 20,300 people contracted the virus on July 13, down from 24,800 the day before. Brazil has been there before however, with the infection rate quickly shooting up over a few short days. Brazil is not out of the woods yet.

The country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, contracted the virus during the week of July 4th and is now quarantined. Stocks tanked on the news and the Brazilian real went back to trading well over 5 reals to the dollar.

Last month, volunteers in Brazil began receiving a trial vaccine against Covid-19, in Latin America’s first phase 3 clinical trial.

The trial, which officially began on Saturday June 20 and will enrol 5,000 volunteers across the country, takes place in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and a site in the Northeast of Brazil.

The Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) approved the inclusion of Brazil in the clinical trials on June 2, which are being conducted in partnership with AstraZeneca. The trial is being sponsored entirely by Brazilian entrepreneurs led in part by the billionaire founder of the Lehman Foundation.

The vaccine was developed at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Jenner Institute and is currently on trial in Great Britain. Some 4,000 participants are already enrolled in the trials and enrolment of an additional 10,000 was expected as of late June, according to Oxford.

Russia also did a smaller test drive on a new vaccine on some two dozen patients, which they said has proven to be a success so far. It is unclear if the test is ongoing at this time, given the tiny test sample.