Aussie researchers say COVID-19 drug could arrive by end of 2020

Australian researchers have reportedly made a global breakthrough on a new antiviral drug they believe can protect against COVID-19 infection.

Monash University researchers have conducted modelling of the drug to show it has significant blocking ability against the virus that causes COVID-19, The Australian reported.

Researchers hope the drug, which could be administered by an inhaler, might be available as early as the end of the year.

RELATED: Victoria records 16 new coronavirus cases

Monash University senior research fellow Tom Karagiannis said he and his team had tested the way a designer molecule called a-ketoamide blocks one of the proteins needed to replicate the virus that causes COVID-19. Last month German researchers published new data on an improved version of a-ketoamides they said work more effectively in humans.

Dr Karagiannis and his colleagues used a supercomputer to study the way the improved version blocks the triggering of the replication of the virus that causes COVID-19 and found it acts as a handbrake on the virus’s ability to replicate.

“This molecule stops the virus from replicating, which can then stop the release of new virus particles and infection of other cells in the body,” Dr Karagiannis told The Australian.

It comes as Victoria is facing a dangerous spike in infections, with authorities reporting a “concerning” increase in the number of virus-related hospitalisations.

“We currently have nine patients in hospital, including two in intensive care. So just to make the point there that the number of people in hospital has gone up from just four a few days ago, which is always concerning,” said the state’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

The state’s COVID-19 case numbers are now the highest they’ve been in more than two months.

Of the 16 new cases announced today, two have been linked to the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Melbourne, taking that outbreak total to 14.

RELATED: NSW residents warned to avoid Melbourne

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has blamed the spike in cases on large family gatherings and people not following social distancing measures.

“We have had cases of people gathering in large numbers, everybody at their home or another family member’s home or a close friend’s home, even though they had been told to isolate in their own home,” he said on Saturday.

“It is unacceptable that families anywhere in our state can, just because they want this to be over, pretend that it is. It is not over.”

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