Argentina starts trials on hyperimmune equine serum to treat COVID-19

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Argentina has started clinical trials on treating COVID-19 using hyperimmune serum developed with antibodies from horses, authorities from the laboratory involved said on Wednesday.

The serum, produced by biotechnology company Inmunova, is obtained by injecting a SARS-CoV-2 protein, which causes the animal to generate a large amount of neutralising antibodies.

Plasma is then extracted from the horse, purified and processed.

After positive results in laboratory tests, the clinical trial to study the effectiveness of the serum will be carried out on 242 people diagnosed with the disease in moderate to severe conditions, the laboratory said.

“If we can lower viral replication in the first days, not only are we going to lower the viral load of the disease and the referral of patients… but we think this neutralizing capacity will allow patients to develop their own immune response,” said Fernando Goldbaum, Inmunova’s scientific director.

In a video call, Goldbaum said trials had started on Monday and the first results were expected between October and November.

Argentina has registered close to 175 000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with around 3 200 fatalities.