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Tea, haritaki extracts may help cure COVID-19, claim IIT-Delhi researchers

Haritaki is a herb that has been used in India since ancient times as an Ayurvedic medicine.

Aqueous extracts from tea and haritaki have potential anti-viral activity that can act against the novel coronavirus infection, say the researchers.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Published : July 3, 2020 8:51 AM IST

Researchers around the world are working day and night to find a cure for the COVID-19 disease and they are leaving no stone unturned to make it a reality soon. Almost every day one group or another is coming up with potential therapeutic options to fight the deadly virus. Indian researchers are also not behind in the COVID-19 drug race. Making a new entry in the race is a team of researchers from IIT-Delhi's Kusuma School of Biological Sciences (KSBS). They have claimed that aqueous extracts from tea (black and green tea) and haritaki (popularly known as harad in Hindi) have the potential to act against the novel coronavirus infection. Haritaki is a herb that has been used in India since ancient times as an Ayurvedic medicine for preventing and curing diseases.

Tea, haritaki extracts show anti-viral activity

The team, led by Prof Ashok Kumar Patel, started their study with the belief that medicinal plants may provide a way to treat COVID-19 by targeting specific essential proteins of the virus. They screened about 51 medicinal plants on 3CL protease (3-chymotrypsin-like protease) of the virus, which is necessary for processing the viral polyproteins. The team is sure that targeting this protein would halt the replication of the virus.

Through their experiments, they were able to find that aqueous extracts from Tea (scientific name-Camellia Sinensis) as well as Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) have potential anti-viral activity via in-vitro inhibition of the proteolytic activity of the main protease of the virus. The findings suggest the possibility of Gallotannin to emerge as a potential therapeutic candidate against SARS-CoV-2 in the future, Prof Ashok Kumar Patel in a statement.

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The lead researcher, however, noted that larger randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicentre clinical trials are needed to confirm the findings. Meanwhile, their study has been accepted for revision by a peer-reviewed journal.

India's 1st COVID-19 vaccine gets human trial approval

The Drug Controller General of India has also approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based firm Bharat Biotech for clinical human trials. The vaccine, called Covaxin, is India's 1st COVID-19 vaccine to get human trial approval. Tests in animals have shown positive results, suggesting that the vaccine is safe and triggers an effective immune response. A part of a trial, an unspecified number of people will be given the vaccine.

The vaccine is developed from a strain of coronavirus after it was isolated and weakened under laboratory conditions. According to Dr Krishna Ella, chairman of Bharat Biotech, the vaccine is being developed in collaboration with India's National Institute of Virology and Indian Council of Medical Research.

Bharat Biotech had earlier developed vaccines for many diseases including H1N1 and rotavirus, and delivered more than 4 billion doses of vaccines worldwide.

Indian firms in the COVID-19 vaccine race

Around 120 vaccine programmes are underway across the world and half a dozen Indian firms are also in the COVID-19 vaccine race. Besides Bharat Biotech, the other local firms working on COVID-19 vaccine include Zydus Cadilla, Biological E, Indian Immunologicals, and Mynvax.

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine maker by the number of doses produced and sold globally, has also partnered to mass produce the highly touted Oxford vaccine.

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