By decree No. 42369-S, the Government declared of public and national interest the project carried out by the University of Costa Rica (ICP-UCR) and the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) to develop, produce and validate the therapeutic effectiveness of two drugs for the treatment of patients with COVID19 and to improve the attention of the pandemic that affects the health of the Costa Rican population.
This was announced this Thursday at a press conference by the President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, limiting that the issuance of the decree responds to a request made by both institutions through the Ministry of Health.
This initiative seeks to promote that both public and private sector agencies, non-governmental organizations and international organizations contribute with material, economic and human resources for the successful completion of the project. In addition, it declares as a priority the development of the inter-institutional project that also involves the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health (INCIENSA), an institution attached to the Ministry of Health.
This Thursday, June 4, the president paid a visit to the Clodomiro Picado Institute to observe the research work being carried out, together with the Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT), Paola Vega; the executive president of the CCSS, Román Macaya; and the rector of the UCR, Carlos Araya. In the activity they were attended by the director of the Institute, Dr. Alberto Alape, and researchers who participate in the project.
After highlighting the historical legacy of the Institute, the president stressed that the work being carried out will set the standard in the treatment of COVID-19. “This laboratory, recognized worldwide, is a national pride, which deserves all our recognition and in response to your request is that we make this declaration of public and national interest,” said President Alvarado.
This project aims to develop, produce and validate the therapeutic effectiveness of two therapeutic preparations of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus: one of human antibodies purified from the plasma of convalescent patients and the other of equine antibodies purified from the plasma of horses. immunized with viral proteins.
These drugs will be an option to treat patients with COVID19 in a severe and critical state of the infection and thus improve their clinical course.
The executive president of the CCSS, Román Macaya, highlighted that since the insurance institution proposed this initiative, great advances have been observed in the process of national development of a therapeutic option for active patients with COVID-19.
He assured that if those treatment options manage to become an effective response, Costa Rica will have used its highest scientific capacity in defense of the population against a global threat. “These treatments are essential because we will know that the country did it for itself, based on its own capabilities, on the accumulated knowledge and on the conviction that we are all included and protected by social security,” he said.
He added that “this is one of three strategies to develop own therapies, created in Costa Rica, which demonstrate the country’s capacity for innovation and the great impact that alliances such as this can have between the CCSS, the Clodomiro Picado Institute and the Ministry of Health”.
The production of the human antibody preparation depends on the Caja sending the plasma to be processed at the Clodomiro Picado Institute pharmaceutical plant.
In this sense, Dr. Alape Girón acknowledged that “the staff of the National Blood Bank and the blood banks of the Caja’s hospitals are playing an extraordinary role in collecting the plasma from convalescent patients.” However, he emphasized that “we need more patients to come to donate, in order to complete the 25 liters necessary to start production of the drug as soon as possible.”
If it is possible to increase the number of donors of recovered patients from COVID-19 who donate their plasma, the ICP-UCR estimates that the first batch of human immunoglobulins will be ready by the end of June 2020.
For its part, the first batch of equine plasma is projected to be ready by the end of July 2020. The immunized horses have already received two injections of the viral proteins. The horses are in perfect health and their immune system is responding very well as antibodies against the virus can now be detected, Dr. Alape reported.
Aware of the positive impact of science and technology on health, MICITT defined health as one of the strategic areas of the National Plan for Science, Technology and Innovation 2015-2021.
“The Covid-19 reminds us that to put our eyes to the search for solutions through science is to put it at the service of humanity. Our scientists have shown that the best decision the country can make today is to take science to fight this pandemic, “said the Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications, Paola Vega Castillo.