When Will There Be a Treatment for the Coronavirus?

Source: New York Times

By Spencer Bokat-Lindell

This article is part of the Debatable newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For all of modern medicine’s advances, the immune system is still largely on its own when it comes to viruses: Of the 200 or so types that are known to infect humans, only about 10 have approved treatments, according to the science journalist Matthew Hutson.

The race is now on to make the coronavirus the 11th: With a vaccine at least a year away, an effective treatment may be the country’s best hope for making a recovery before next year. But how close are researchers to finding a drug that works? Here’s a look at where things stand.

Americans’ lives won’t return to normal without a technological breakthrough, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, writes for The Wall Street Journal. Even if hydroxychloroquine and tocilizumab get approved for coronavirus treatment, it’s highly unlikely they will prove panaceas. The best near-term hope is a new therapeutic drug, Dr. Gottlieb says. He outlines two types being explored:

  • Antiviral drugs, such as those used to treat H.I.V., which inhibit a virus from replicating in hijacked cells. Dozens of coronavirus antivirals are in various stages of development; the most encouraging, remdesivir, is being tested in six clinical trials, some which are expected to yield results this month, according to Stat’s Matthew Harper.

  • Antibody drugs, which mimic the immune response of a recovered patient, and could therefore be used as both a treatment and a prophylactic. Doctors have already attempted transferring antibodies from recovered Covid-19 patients to critically ill ones through blood plasma transfusions; synthetic antibodies would serve the same purpose, but on a larger scale. A number of biotechnology companies are developing monoclonal antibodies (derived from recovered patients or genetically engineered mice) that could enter trials this summer. If everything goes perfectly, they might be ready for limited use in the fall.

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“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight week period,” Governor Newsom of California wrote on 3/19/2020.

Categories: Health, The Muslim Times

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