Researchers Fighting COVID-19 Find Help From... Llamas?!

Researchers have found a very unlikely ally in their quest to defeat the coronavirus. A 4-year-old llama named Winter!

In a study published in the journal Cell on Friday, scientists from the U.S. and Belgium say they discovered that the antibodies taken from Winter the llama happened to block the coronavirus from infecting cells.

"This is one of the first antibodies known to neutralize SARS-CoV-2," says Jason McLellan, the study's senior author.

Unlike traditional vaccines, which need to be in a patient's system for a month or two before they provide protection, the llama antibodies appeared to work almost immediately.

“Vaccines have to be given a month or two before infection to provide protection,” McLellan said. “With antibody therapies, you’re directly giving somebody the protective antibodies and so, immediately after treatment, they should be protected. The antibodies could also be used to treat somebody who is already sick to lessen the severity of the disease.”

However, there is a downside to the treatment...

While McLellan says it's 100 percent effective in blocking the virus, it only lasts about two months -- meaning patients would have to get re-vaccinated six times a year.

Read more about Winter the llama and the new study on UT News.

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