More than 350,000 people have died with Covid-19, but there are still no drugs established to help doctors treat the disease.
So how far are we from these life-saving medicines? What work is being done to discover medicines?
More than 150 different drugs are being researched around the world. Most are existing medications that are being trailed against the infection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has propelled the Solidarity preliminary planned for surveying the most encouraging medicines
The UK says its Recovery preliminary is the world’s greatest, with in excess of 5,000 patients previously partaking
And multiple research centers around the world are trying to use survivors’ blood as a treatment.
What kinds of medications may work?
There are three expansive methodologies being examined:
- Antiviral medications that straightforwardly influence the coronavirus’ capacity to flourish inside the body
- Drugs which will calm the system – patients become seriously ill when their system overreacts and starts causing fatal accident to the body.
- Antibodies, either from survivors’ blood or made during a lab, which will attack the virus.
What is the foremost promising coronavirus drug?
The most recent clinical preliminaries of remdesivir, an antiviral medication initially created to treat Ebola, have been empowering.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) found that remdesivir cut the span of side effects from 15 days down to 11. The preliminaries included 1,063 individuals at emergency clinics around the globe. Some were given the medication and others were given a fake treatment (sham) treatment.
Dr Anthony Fauci, who runs NIAID, said: “We now have solid data showing that remdesivir diminishes to a modest degree the time to recovery for people hospitalised with COVID-19.”
However, despite the fact that remdesivir may help recovery – and perhaps stop people being treated in concentrated consideration – the preliminaries didn’t give any reasonable sign whether it can prevent deaths from coronavirus.
It is thought that antivirals may be more effective in the early stages, and immune drugs later in the disease.
The UK government has made the medication accessible on the NHS, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying it was the greatest advance forward regarding treatment since the pandemic started.
UK regulators say there is enough evidence to approve its use.
It is one of the four medications in the WHO Solidarity preliminary and its maker, Gilead, is likewise arranging preliminaries.
The US information on remdesivir was distributed simultaneously as a preliminary of a similar medication in China, detailed in the Lancet clinical diary, demonstrated it was inadequate.
However, that trial was imperfect because the achievement of lockdown in Wuhan meant doctors ran out of patients.
Can HIV drugs treat coronavirus?
There has been a lot of talk, however little proof, that a couple of HIV drugs – lopinavir and ritonavir – would be compelling at treating coronavirus.
There has been some evidence they will add the laboratory, but studies in people are disappointing. The combination didn’t improve recovery, reduce deaths or lower levels of the virus in patients with serious Covid-19.
However, as the trial was conducted with extremely sick patients (nearly a quarter died) it may have been too late in the infection for the drugs to work.
Can malaria drugs stop coronavirus?
Malaria drugs are a part of both the Solidarity and Recovery trials. Chloroquine, and a related derivative, hydroxychloroquine, may have antiviral and immune-calming properties.
The drugs are thrust into the spotlight as potential coronavirus therapies, largely due to claims made by President Trump, but there’s still scant evidence on their effectiveness.
Hydroxychloroquine is also used as dealing with rheumatoid arthritis because it can help regulate the immune system.
Early laboratory tests have shown it can inhibit the coronavirus, but there are growing concerns about its use against the disease.
The WHO recently suspended its global trials of hydroxychloroquine following a large-scale study within the Lancet. That found the drug’s use can cause heart problems, and truly increased the likelihood of death.
The WHO says there’s no definitive evidence of its effectiveness.
What about immune drugs?
If the immune system overreacts to the virus then it can cause inflammation throughout the body. This is often helpful for rallying the immune system
to fight the infection, but too much can cause collateral damage to the body and can be fatal.
Coronavirus: What it does to the body
The Solidarity trial is investigating interferon beta, which is used to treat several sclerosis, and lowers inflammation. Interferons are a group of chemicals released by the body when under attack by a virus.
The UK’s Recovery trial is investigating dexamethasone – a kind of steroid wont to reduce inflammation.
Can survivors’ blood treat coronavirus?
People who survive an infection should have antibodies in their blood which will attack the virus.
The idea is you take the blood plasma (the part which contains the antibodies) and give that to a sick patient as a therapy.
The US has already treated 500 patients with what’s referred to as “convalescent plasma”, and other countries are becoming involved too.
Plasma treatment to be trialed.
How long until we have a cure?
It is too soon to know when we might have a drug that can treat the coronavirus.
However, we should start to get the outcomes of trials in the next few months.
. This is often much before we’ll know if a vaccine (which protects against infection rather than treat it) is effective.
This is because doctors are testing drugs that have already been developed and are known to be safe enough to use, whereas vaccines researchers are ranging from scratch.
Some completely new, experimental, coronavirus drugs also are being tested within the laboratory but aren’t yet ready for human tests.
Why can we need treatment?
The most obvious reason for wanting treatment is it’ll save lives, but it could also allow some lockdown measures to be lifted.
Having an efficient treatment would, in essence, make coronavirus a milder disease.
If it stopped people that were admitted to hospital from needing ventilation, then there would be less risk of intensive care
units being overwhelmed, so controls on people’s lives might not got to be as strict.
So how are doctors treating patients now?
If you are infected by a coronavirus, then for most people it would be mild and can be treated at home with bed-rest, paracetamol and plenty of fluids.
But some people need more intensive hospital treatment, which involves oxygen support like ventilation.