Since the first outbreaks of Coronavirus were identified, scientists have been searching for effective treatments, a vaccine or cure for the disease.
However, progress is just starting to be made in identifying drugs that have an effect on treating people who have a severe case of Covid-19.
What Research Is Currently Being Conducted To Find Treatment?
Over 150 existing pharmaceuticals are currently being tested on a global scale. Many of these drugs are in the human trial phase.
The largest clinical trial, called Recovery, is being conducted in the UK with over 12,00 participants. This trial is one of the first to produce results on what drugs are effective and which are not.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), is conducting the Solidarity research study to evaluate the effectiveness of different treatments on Covid-19 across the world.
Individual pharmaceutical companies are conducting their own trials to determine which of their own drugs may be effective. These tests and trials include an ivd array development process for research and implementing this through testing.
At the moment, three broad approaches are being researched:
– Antiviral drugs that act directly on the ability of Covid-19 to multiply and thrive in the human body.
– Immune system suppressants to reduce the body’s reaction to the virus. An overactive response from the immune system to the virus has been found to be the cause of severe cases of Coronavirus.
– Identifying antibodies in the blood of those who have recovered from Covid-19.
Drugs may be more effective at different stages of the virus. For example, antivirals will have a greater effect when administered at the beginning of the illness whereas immune suppressants may be more effective later on. Treatments that combine different drug treatments are also being investigated.
A Life-Saving Drug
Of all the drugs currently undergoing trials, one stands out and has been proven to save lives. Dexamethasone is being praised as a breakthrough in the battle against Covid-19. Results from the UK’s Recovery trial have seen deaths decreased by 1/3rd for patients who were placed on ventilators and by 1/5th for patients requiring oxygen. The drug is steroidal and reduces inflammation which is an immune system response to the virus.
Of greater significance, the drug is not expensive and can therefore meet patient requirements globally. However, the drug has not been found to be effective at treating patients presenting only with mild symptoms of the disease.
Other Promising Drugs
– Ramdesivir, an antiviral drug that was developed for the treatment of Ebola has shown some promising results in trials. A clinical trial, including over 1,000 participants, found that it reduced the duration of symptoms to 11 days from 15 days. Although the drug has as of yet to save lives, research is ongoing. The U.S. has however stockpiled the majority of the supply. The manufacturer of the drug has made small donations to South Korea.
– Interferon Beta reduces inflammation and is also a protein that is naturally produced by the body. The drug has been used to treat the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The manufacturer of the drug, Synairgen, is conducting trials that deliver the drug directly into the lungs of patients through a nebuliser. Initial findings have shown that the drug reduces the likelihood of patients in hospital developing severe symptoms. More research and a larger clinical trial is required to confirm these results.
Antibodies From The Blood Of Coronavirus Survivors
A person who has recovered from the virus should have antibodies in the blood that were responsible for attacking Covid-19.
Trials that involve extracting blood plasma that contain these antibodies and then delivering it to an infected patient are currently being conducted.
How Long Till There Is A Cure?
There may never be a cure for Coronavirus. It is a virus, just like the flu, common cold and other viral diseases for which no cure has been found.
The focus is however on finding an effective treatment or therapies that look promising.
Trials testing drugs that are already approved are being researched which will allow the faster delivery of treatments that are effective. The safety of existing drugs is already known making the trial process much quicker.
This is in contrast with vaccine trials. Researchers need to start from scratch to create a vaccine that prevents the virus rather than treating or curing it.
New, experimental drugs that are aimed specifically at the treatment of Coronavirus are currently in the early phases of laboratory research. However, it could be months or even years before these drugs are ready for human trials. This approach has been found to be effective in finding treatments for other diseases but is as of yet to be effective in treating Covid-19 patients.