Llamas And Covid-19?



Alais Alzaga, Media Arts Editor

What’s up with llamas and Covid-19? Here’s the scoop.

So all of our minds seem to be focused on the coronavirus, I mean its been practically controlling how we live our lives for the past few months. It has killed hundreds of thousands and infected even more, and if we don’t act fast, things could potentially get worse. We all just want to go outside, shop, hang out with friends, and so on. But to do that safely, we should at least have a vaccine. The issue is that vaccines take a very long time to develop. For some reference after the large Ebola outbreak in 2014, it became even more important to develop a vaccine, although the first Ebola vaccine wasn’t approved in the U.S. until December 2019. Even once vaccines are developed, it takes 70% of the population to be vaccinated to have herd immunity.

Luckily, there might be some hope, but in a quite unexpected place. Winter is a 4-year-old llama who might just help us pave a way to a vaccine. Here is how it works. The New York Times said, “Humans produce only one kind of antibody, made of two types of protein chains — heavy and light — that together form a Y shape. Heavy-chain proteins span the entire Y, while light-chain proteins touch only the Y’s arms. Llamas, on the other hand, produces two types of antibodies. One of those antibodies is similar in size and constitution to human antibodies. But the other is much smaller…” That means it can work its way into the spike structures on the Covid-19 virus. Winter has also been involved in studies regarding MERS and SARS, while for the past decade llamas have been used in H.I.V. research.

Although it is early in the research, it is promising and this discovery can lead us on the path to developing a vaccine to fight Covid-19 worldwide.