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Two compounds found in cannabis prevented the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, from penetrating healthy cells in humans, according to a new report.
The two compounds in hemp — cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, or CBDA — “were identified during a chemical screening effort as having potential to combat coronavirus, researchers from Oregon State University said. In the study, they bound to spike proteins found on the virus and blocked a step the pathogen uses to infect people,” according to a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nature Products, Fortune reported.
“The researchers tested the compounds’ effect against alpha and beta variants of the virus in a laboratory. The study didn’t involve giving the supplements to people or comparing infection rates in those who use the compounds to those who don’t,” the report read. Hemp is type of cannabis, but unlike marijuana, it has small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that gets you high. It is used in food and animal feed, while other extracts can be found in cosmetics and body lotions.
“These compounds can be taken orally and have a long history of safe use in humans,” said Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon State’s Global Hemp Innovation Center. “They have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” he said in a statement to Fortune.
The new lab study comes shortly after another found the risk of winding up in the intensive care unit or dying from the Omicron variant is 83% less compared to the Delta strain. In addition, the risk of hospitalization or death for an Omicron infection is 65% less than Delta, the Canadian study found.
Despite the seemingly good news, the researchers still had a warning. “While severity is likely to be reduced, the absolute number of hospitalizations and impact on the healthcare system may nevertheless be significant due to the increased transmissibility of Omicron.”
“Nevertheless, Omicron appears to demonstrate lower disease severity for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. While severity is likely to be reduced, the absolute number of hospitalizations and impact on the healthcare system is likely to be significant due to the large number of Omicron infections,” the study says.
The Canadian study mirrors findings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate of hospitalizations of Americans with COVID-19 has dropped 50% amid the new Omicron variant compared to record highs seen a year ago, new CDC data shows.
Even though the rate of cases has has more than tripled in since Omicron emerged around Thanksgiving — earlier this week there were more than 1 million new cases diagnosed on a single day — just 3% of people with the virus are being admitted in hospitals, data from the CDC shows.
That rate is less than half the 6.5% of cases that needed hospitalization exactly a year ago, when the average daily case count was about 250,000, the data shows. Deaths from the virus are less than a third of what was recorded last January at about 1,200 per day, far fewer than the record high of 3,400 a year ago, CDC data shows.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to [email protected].