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This treatment may work against COVID-19 variants that evade vaccines

New COVID-19 variants are spreading. What happens if they evade vaccines?

An illustration for the lambda variant of COVID-19.
Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

Dr. Robert Paine III, a University of Utah pulmonologist, has an idea that might combat COVID-19 variants like the delta variant and the lambda variant — and it’s called leukine.

Paine been leading out on treatment methods for COVID-19. According to WBUR, he has been developing methods to stop COVID-19 by using older drugs.

Now, he has been focused on a new treatment method that calls on people to inhale leukine, which is a naturally occurring molecule that can defend the lungs.

“Because it is given as an inhaled mist, it targets the lung to alleviate respiratory failure and reduce the need for oxygen therapy. This is a key step in preventing the need for ICU care and support on a mechanical ventilator.”

One clinical trial in Belgium looked at the drug and found that it generated T-cells. According to Paine, this can create an immune response that could tackle COVID-19 variants, he said.

He told me “because leukine works through the body’s natural defense mechanisms it will be beneficial even if variants of the virus arise for which vaccines are less effective.”

That treatment method might come in handy these days, as experts continue to warn about variants that might evade vaccines. For example, recent research suggested the lambda variant might evade COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser for the novel coronavirus, told news site McClatchy that there’s a real chance for a variant to develop that will evade vaccines.

“If another one comes along that has an equally high capability of transmitting but also is much more severe, then we could really be in trouble,” he said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “People who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it’s only about them. But it isn’t. It’s about everybody else, also.”

Indeed, other experts told Newsweek that the delta variant won’t be the last coronavirus variant to spread wildly. More mutations, experts said, will come and could potentially spread rapidly.

“I wouldn’t be incredibly surprised if something else came along that’s even more transmissible,” Eric Vail, director of molecular pathology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told Newsweek

The key, experts said, is to make sure that the variants don’t develop into something that could evade COVID-19 vaccines.