Previously, the scientists said that the medicine would take months to develop. But as the virus keeps spreading to Asian and American countries, the research has sped up so while we may not have a cure for coronavirus, we have found ways to treat it.
On Friday, the World Health Organisation held a global trial, SOLIDARITY, to assess the findings of scientists and medical experts as far as the pandemic is concerned. Since COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, attacks respiratory systems, WHO wanted to know if the researcher had been successful in coming up with a medicine to fight that.
The draft for the cure so far suggests that in the coming days experts will perform their experiments on thousands of patients and assess the reports with the collected data we have so far. The affected people participating in the research would belong to different nations and the experiment would be simple so the doctors, who are already under pressure can also take part without compromising on their duties.
Right now, the plan is that instead of coming up with a cure that would take months to develop, scientists will go for a different approach. Since this novel virus has similar symptoms as other diseases that already have a treatment, medical experts will build on those drugs and modify them to suit the needs of a coronavirus patient. This would be done after a close assessment of the performance of each drug in the past and would be first tested on animals.
Source: Science Mag
Previously when SARS and MERS made an appearance, researchers developed cures quickly. However, a lot of medicines during that time were left unapproved due to safety and health concerns. So there have been efforts to bring back those drugs and develop them further to protect humans against coronavirus.
Research suggests that one way to protect the patients against coronavirus pandemic is to give them drugs that slow down or kill the virus. The medicine is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and it might prove effective in saving the lives of patients who are suffering due to breathing issues.
However, one drawback is that if used, it would be given prophylactically as the medicine might make health workers more prone to other infections. The proposal is still on the table as beds in care units continue to fill up so this method would actually speed up the process of treatment.
Source: Fox news
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, scientists have suggested dozens of methods to prevent the spread but they have to get approval from the World Health Organization.
The organization says that they are centring their attention on four promising therapies that might prove effective for the patients: the experimental antiviral compounds called remdesivir; the malaria medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine; a combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir; and that same combination plus interferon-beta, an immune system messenger that can paralyse viruses.
Some of these treatments have already been used on the patients of COVID-19. The HIV combo was the first drug tested on some people in China but it did not provide desired results but scientists are hopeful that with some modification, it will treat the patients successfully.
If you are wondering how will the SOLIDARITY program mentioned above work, then it is quite simple. After the patient is enrolled in a facility, the doctor will assess the conditions and if deemed fit, their data would be entered in the WHO website made for assessment. Along with COVID-19 conditions, any medical history such as diabetes, heart rate, respiratory illnesses etc would also be noted in the data to see how the drug will affect other factors.
The patient must sign an informed consent form which will be sent to the WHO electronically. Then, according to the availability of the drugs present in the hospital the patient is admitted to, the drug medicine will be tested to collect results.
“After that, no more measurements or documentation are required,” says Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, a medical officer at WHO’s Department of Immunization Vaccines and Biologicals. The doctor assigned to the patient will then record details of how the medicine is bringing changes within them and if they die, the duration along with the primary cause of death has to be analysed.
WHO admits that participants might be sceptical about this since the design is not double-blind, a standard that is considered gold in medical research. There might be placebo effects from patients since they would be informed about the efficiency of the drugs but WHO says that this is the best strategy they have.
According to Henao Restrepo, the suggestion for SOLIDARITY was brought up less than two weeks ago but it has been approved to give researchers maximum control over the pandemic. “It will be important to get answers quickly, to try to find out what works and what doesn’t work. We think that randomized evidence is the best way to do that”, she says.
A bioethicist at New York University Langone Medical Centre, Arthur Caplan, showed his belief in the design and said, “No one wants to tax the frontline caregiver who’s overwhelmed and taking risks anyway. We don’t really know enough about this disease to be sure what it means when the viral load decreases in the throat, for instance.”
On Sunday, INSERM, the French biomedical research agency said that it will accommodate an add-on trial in Europe called Discovery. This will follow the same plan as WHO’s SOLIDARITY and will bring 3200 pains from at least seven countries, including 800 from France. This study will also employ the same drug medicines except for chloroquine.
Henao-Restrepo says that more and more countries should take similar initiatives to find a cure as soon as possible. They can modify the data according to the conditions of the locals and add more observations.
So while we are not close to the cure specifically for coronavirus, researchers have been successful in coming close to treat the symptoms. Let’s hope the curve flattens and the world can once again return to normalcy.