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  • Chandan Aggarwal

Talking About Coronavirus

Everyone is talking about the novel coronavirus, its symptoms and how it is affecting work and life of worldwide, with us folks at Copperpod being no exception. The epidemic has become a pandemic in a matter of days and is a major challenge for some countries to contain its spread, let alone finding a cure to it. In a commitment to limiting spread of the disease, Copperpod has put on pause all business travel for at least 2 weeks, until the CDC and other relevant authorities around the world provide much-needed optimism on controlling and curing the disease.

This novel Coronavirus, also known by names COVID-19 and 2019-nCoV, doesn’t need an introduction by now. It is a topic of discussion in every room and has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by World Health Organisation (WHO). The alarming rate at which it is spreading has made everyone conscious of their health and surroundings. As of March 2020, precautions (and conventional medical procedures) are the only measures that have been adopted by the governments to prevent the spread of this disease. There is no vaccine or cure at present that is effective against COVID-19. Although, researchers and medical practitioners are leaving no stone unturned to devise a vaccine or an antidote to terminate this menace, we are yet to achieve success.

We, at Copperpod, decided to use our skills to find out what has been researched till now and what technology may come up that can actually end, or at least control the disease.

Before looking at our findings, let’s look at the types of coronaviruses and which one of them is responsible for the widespread disease.

  • Common human coronaviruses:

  • 229E and NL63 (alpha coronaviruses)

  • OC43 and HKU1 (beta coronaviruses)

  • Rare human coronaviruses:

  • MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)

  • SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

  • SARS-CoV-2 (the one that started in Wuhan, China in December 2019)

According to WHO, SARS-CoV-2 is related to SARS-CoV but the two viruses are different in structure.

Historically, researchers and innovators have been working on vaccine/antidote since coronavirus was discovered and a first patent FR2245374B1 describing an antiviral agent to counter coronavirus 229E was filed in France in 1973. 6 years later in 1979, it was filed in the US. However, SARS-CoV was first described in a patent FR2601251 filed in 1986 in France describing a vaccine for pigs.

Looking at the patent filing trends since the first patent, most of the research has been performed by scientists and inventors in universities. The below chart shows the top assignees of the patents that are directly related to detecting or curing coronavirus disease:

It is clearly visible that universities own highest number of patents with most of them belonging to the Harvard College. Interestingly, US Department of Health and Human Services stands second in the list with 12 patents to its name describing immunogens, antibodies and vaccines against SARS virus. Companies such as Zirus, Kineta, Novartis, GSK are next in line having good research against coronavirus.

With respect to protection country, the highest number of patents have been filed in the US followed by Europe, China, Japan and Korea, as shown in the below chart:

Further, most of the patents have been filed in the year 2004 after the SARS-CoV was discovered in 2002 in China. Since then, the research has been continuous and with patents being filed every year, as per below statistics:

Although, there are patents describing vaccines and antidotes to counter SARS-CoV, the WHO has not formally recognized any vaccine/antidote/treatment that once-and-for-all puts an end to the rare virus. And SARS-CoV-2 is too recent that has added more panic among the governments and pressure on the medical practitioners to find a solution before it becomes impossible to contain.

For SARS-CoV-2, the research has already started since December 2019, especially in China and Korea, which the virus had caused most deaths. Two patents have been filed related to this virus, one each in China and Korea:

  1. CN110870402, describing a prescription for treating pneumonia infected by novel coronavirus. Filed by Ge Youwen, a scientist in China.

  2. KR20200007980A, describing biomarkers for SARS and candidate compounds for MERS cure. Filed by Han-Jun Cho, a scientist at Catholic University of Korea.

Across the globe, various research institutes, government organizations, pharmaceutical companies, foundations and trusts have collaborated and are working towards development of a cure. Below graphic lists the prominent ones:

With the scale of research going on, more patents are yet to come up this year. Who knows, a vaccine for treatment may come up in near future that may lend some relief and take everyone’s work and lives back to normal. Till then, we, at Copperpod, wish you safety, and good health.

References: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] vaccine-quest [7] ipad-sized-gene-sequencer-could-help [8] partnerships-for-coronavirus-vaccines-development/

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