Most medicines, vaccines included, take years to develop and test. Not all drugs qualify for human use. Antiviral drugs are being tested to treat COVID-19. Antiviral drugs must be timely because viruses grow quickly in the body, and they mutate over time. It may seem like a never-ending battle to fight diseases like COVID-19.
Companies can get a waiver from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to shorten the years-long approval process. It is called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Drugs released via EUA can be used on patients before going through the formal FDA approval process. The drug must be effective and safe before the FDA will authorize full use.
Remdesivir is under EUA currently. Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine were released via EUA but have been revoked. Last month, the United Kingdom determined that hydroxychloroquine testing in 1542 COVID-19 patients did not yield promising results. A control group of 3132 COVID-19 patients treated with standard care had a death rate of 23.5%. The hydroxychloroquine group’s death rate was 25.7%.
Like hydroxychloroquine that is approved and used to treat malaria, other approved drugs do not have to wait years to obtain approval if the FDA has already authorized its use to treat other diseases.
COVID-19 has three primary infection routes that can be countered by antiviral medicines. The first is to prevent the virus from entering our cells. The second is to prevent its replication in our bodies. The third is to minimize damage in our bodies from the virus. COVID-19 does not exhibit symptoms for the first few days after exposure. That makes it difficult to administer antiviral drugs in a timely manner.
Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, was effective against MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) – another coronavirus. It is being evaluated for effectiveness and safety to treat COVID-19 in many countries. Trials in the United States have seen patients recover in eleven days compared to the average of fifteen days for those patients not taking Remdesivir.
Arbidol is an antiviral drug that has been used to treat COVID-19 without satisfactory results. EIDD-2801 has been shown to stop the replication of COVID-19 in research animals. It is currently under clinical trials in the United Kingdom.
Favipiravir is an antiviral drug used to treat influenza. 43 countries are testing this drug and results are pending. Canada is testing this drug in long-term care homes to prevent transmission of the disease.
Lopinavir and Ritonavir are combined and called Kaletra. It is used to treat HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Clinical trials are still ongoing. A drug might be effective against a mild or moderate case of COVID-19 and not against a severe case. Clinical trials test all extremes. Kaletra combined with Ribavirin and Interferon beta-1b looked promising based on a study published in The Lancet two months ago.
Merimepodib (VX-487) is an antiviral and immune-suppressing drug. It is used to treat hepatitis C. It is in COVID-19 clinical trials currently.
Many countries and research facilities are testing new and existing drugs to find the antidote for COVID-19. Will it come before the end of this year? Maybe, but most likely not. When a drug is tested and found safe and effective, the manufacturers must produce it in quantities to treat billions of people.
COVID-19 appears to be with us for many moons to come. I recommend planning to use face masks, social distance, and washing hands for months, and even through next summer. Some states are controlling citizens’ return to normal life at the same time minimizing the medical response of their hospital systems.
Delaying opening businesses and allowing people social interaction will postpone the spread of the disease, but it will not stop it from spreading. The delays may help if an effective drug were available this afternoon.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com