COVID Therapy from Singapore?

Straits Times headline news .

Schematic depiction of a COVID-19 Virus

COVID 19 Antibody Cocktail 

Headline news from the Straits Times: 

Readers asked why import when we have our own?

Readers of  my article ask me why we are importing monoclonal technology when we have our own which according to my article is probably better?  

The imported monoclonal antibodies  are similar to the treatment developed by A*STAR more than a year ago.    A*STAR  has reported collaboration with Chugai Pharma, a major Japanese pharma, almost more than a year ago.

Strictly speaking, the monoclonal antibodies for Covid developed by A*STAR is not yet a therapy as it has not undergone a clinical trial yet.


Why does Singapore have to import monoclonal technology when we have already developed ours using a unique and probably superior technology according to my article.  A*STAR's monoclonal antibodies has yet to undergo clinical trials strictly speaking we do not have our own covid therapy developed yet.

 Strictly speaking we do not have our own covid therapy developed since clinical trials have not been conducted yet. Maybe this is the reason for importing a monoclonal antibody that has already undergone clinical trials as an exigency. 

 A*STAR has already announced a collaboration with Chugai Pharmaceutical on this monoclonal antibody for more than a year ago.  It would be so easy with our captured patient pool to conduct our own clinical trials considering the rising community cases and increasing demand for ICU resources.  Importing a monoclonal antibody that has undergone clinical trials would essentially make clinical trials for our own monoclonal antibodies ever more so difficult.  Perhaps the decision makers are not aware that our own monoclonal antibodies may have superior characteristics in that they are likely to be more specific and less adverse reactions according to my article. 

The Chinese in a video claimed that they have developed a cure for Covid infection using monoclonal antibodies when we already have developed our own monoclonal antibodies for Covid a year before they did.  It is actually quite a good video on monoclonal antibodies.  The headlines for this video is Monoclonal Antibody: The Cure of COCID-19 in on the Way.  Please see the link.

What is so special about A*STAR's technology?

A*STAR's technology is unique and can only have been done in Singapore.

No other monoclonal therapy can measure up to our standard and could only be uniquely done in Singapore. 

All Singaporeans should be mighty proud.

Because of the unique nature of our antibody library, the monoclonal antibodies developed in Singapore probably have less  adverse effects and more specific actions.

The monoclonal antibodies developed by A*STAR more than a year ago was published in CELL, a leading bioscience  journal last May.  A*STAR'S work has been peer reviewed by other scientists in the same field thus endorsing the scientific method used by them.

As a point of correction A*STAR does not have a COVID therapy yet as the monoclonal antibody it has developed has not undergone clinical trial yet and therefore is still unproven.   I wrote to Professor TAN Chorh Chuan, Chief Health Scientist, Ministry of Health who is a personal friend.  He pointed out the the ministry's main goal is to obtain adequate supplies of effective mAbs as early as possible for Singapore. They have therefore looked both overseas and locally. Although they have supported a number of local research efforts in mAb development, these have not yet resulted in a clinically approved agent.

Unfortunately  importing a clinically approved monoclonal antibodies will make A*STAR's monoclonal antibodies so much more difficult  to come to clinical use. 

Picture shows antibodies (Y) attacking a virus.
There is increasing acceptance for the use of monoclonal antibodies for Covid infection in the medical community.

What's the latest news on monoclonal antibodies?

Please see the following updates:

1.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently updated a living guideline on COVID-19 drugs. In the guideline, they conditionally recommend the use of monoclonal antibodies to treat patients with non-severe disease at highest risk for hospitalization and patients with severe or critical illness who have not mounted an antibody response. This news  was reported by University of Minnesota.

2.   There is a high demand for monoclonal antibodies treatment as reported by the Washington Post.  But the availability is scare.

3.   In May 2021, U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy sotrovimab for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

This is a good video claiming that China has developed a cure for Covid-19 using monoclonal antibodies. But A*STAR has developed and published their work on monoclonal antibodies for Covid-19 more than a year ago.  

There are already several clinical trials on the use of monoclonal antibodies for COVID infections in the US and elsewhere including Israel.  

What's the follow up

See my article

My article has 4,500 hits in May.

My article has been reviewed and edited by corporate communications at  A*STAR and thus deemed to be truthful and credible. 

Is Singapore missing the boat?  It still baffles me.

I am trying to reach out to Minister of Health, the permanent secretary, chief scientist and chief technology strategist at the Health Science Authority.  As of 7 October 2021, I have not heard back from them.

I hate to think about the saying that local ginger is not good enough!

We all in Singapore should be very proud of this outstanding Singapore achievement. 

Spread the word by clicking on the link below.

Disclaimer, this is an independent view and is not meant to disparage anyone least of all A*STAR for the great work they have done.

Chan Kwan Ho aka Casey Chan