The technology is based on “short interfering RNA”, which prevents the virus from replicating inside human cells. They found a 99.9% drop in the number of virus particles in the mice they studied.
The researchers hypothesise it could be injected into patients daily for up to five days, for example for sick patients in hospital, or as a once-off if someone has just been exposed to the coronavirus; however, there’s no data on this specifically, so it’s speculative for now.
While the results are very promising, the technology has only been tested in mice. Human clinical trials will take some time to complete before we know whether a drug will be approved by the government.
Will this drug be available soon?
As promising as the results are, we shouldn’t get our hopes up that a drug will be available any time soon. Data derived from animal tests doesn’t always translate to success in humans. Often, the way an animal’s body processes a drug can be different from the human body, and it ends up being ineffective.
Also, animal tests are just the first step in a long regulatory process to prove a drug works and is safe. Even with accelerated clinical trials and fast-tracked assessment from governments, an approved drug is still a year or more away.