The pandemic has made unprecedented efforts worldwide to find safe and effective treatment, either by developing new drugs against the novel coronavirus or by repurposing existing drugs.
But very few of the drugs tested and administered to date have proven effective. This is borne out by a large WHO-backed study published on Friday.
The steroid dexamethasome is the only treatment that has been shown to reduce mortality from coronaviruses. It has shown promise in early studies in hospitalized patients in need of oxygen.
It has been recommended as a COVID-19 treatment by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency.
But it remains something of a last resort – initial evidence suggests that it is only effective in the most serious cases.
Recent research has shown that other steroids may also play a role in reducing mortality in patients in need of hospital care.
Remdesivir, an antiviral originally developed to treat Ebola, reduced hospital stays for coronavirus patients from an average of 15 to 11 days, according to a study published in May New England Journal of Medicine.
However, a WHO form on Friday showed the drug appeared to have “little or no effect” on coronavirus mortality or length of hospital stay in more than 11,000 hospitalized patients in 30 countries.
The data has yet to be reviewed in a scientific journal and appears to contradict previous US studies.
Hydroxychloroquine is perhaps the most controversial drug emerging from the pandemic. It is a malaria drug that is touted as a miracle cure by its proponents.
However, critics warn that treating coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine is even worse than a placebo because of possible serious side effects.
While high-profile figures like US President Donald Trump seem convinced, science says otherwise.
In June, the UK-led recovery testing team announced that hydroxychloroquine was doing nothing to reduce coronavirus mortality, which was confirmed by the results of the WHO study on Friday.
This HIV virus, used to fight HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been shown to be ineffective in treating COVID-19 in hospitals.
When the body fends off viruses like SARS-CoV-2, it develops antibodies – proteins that are programmed to target specific pathogens.
These antibodies can be synthesized in a laboratory and theoretically given to patients with COVID-19 to boost their own natural immune response.
Trump received this still experimental treatment when he was hospitalized with the virus.
However, the WHO said again on Friday that the technology developed by the US biotech company Regeneron would have little or no benefit in hospital patients with coronavirus.
Plasma from the blood of recovered patients showed some early prospects when given intravenously to people suffering from COVID-19.
It has already been shown to speed recovery from Ebola and SARS, which are caused by the same family of pathogens as the novel coronavirus.
Recovery has an ongoing clinical trial on plasma treatment.
The UK survey is also currently evaluating the effectiveness of tocilizumab, an immunosuppressive drug that scientists hope can prevent excessive and potentially fatal inflammation in severe cases.
A number of studies have looked at the reuse of different drugs to treat other diseases.
Remdesivir has “little or no effect” on Covid-19 mortality: WHO study
© 2020 AFP
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