Coronavirus anti-viral researcher from Acadiana dispels rumors, conspiracy theories

Coronavirus

Rumors and accusations have been spreading on social media that American scientist and Harvard Professor Dr. Charles Lieber, as well two Chinese nationals, created COVID-19 in a lab.

According to the Department of Justice, that has not been proven. The truth is they were all arrested back in February, but in separate cases, and were charged with aiding the People’s Republic of China with a Chinese recruitment program called the “Thousand Talents Plan,” to draw outstanding researchers back to China as well as new recruits.  

Similar programs also exist in other countries like Canada’s 150 Research Chairs program.

Conspiracy theories also claim COVID-19 was created to be used as a weapon of mass destruction.

Dr. Donald Alcendor says, “There is no (scientific) evidence that supports the notion that this was created in a laboratory.”

Alcendor is from Acadiana. The Opelousas, La., native is an infectious disease specialist who is currently doing research in molecular biology, neuroscience and virology at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn.

He’s been researching coronavirus for at least two decades.  

“Bats will carry coronaviruses in their fecal matter and you can have a cat that would pick that up by oral fecal matter and then there a transmission that would take place,” Alcendor says.

And that’s what is believed to have happened in Wuhan, China.

Among his most noted works, Alcendor’s research arsenal includes a drug candidate he developed with two other doctors for  “Zika”, a virus that caused a global epidemic in 2015-2016. That reagent is still awaiting a patent.

Alcendor says however,  it’s that work that led to the antiviral he’s now working on for coronavirus.

The president of Meharry University cited Alcendor’s work on that antiviral for Zika and had him switch to work on one for Covid19.

“We looked at it the same way we looked at Zika and that is to intervene in the virus’ replication cycle,” says Alcendor.

He also says, developing an antiviral to treat infected patients will take two to four months so the rush is on the get it from lab to creation to trials then FDA  approval and on the market.

He says meanwhile, a vaccine to help prevent infection will take a little longer, about 12 to 18 months.

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