Hopes Rise over Experimental Drug’s Effectiveness against Coronavirus

Amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus, multiple separate clinical trials have been launched to find an effective treatment. Clinical trials on remdesivir have given hopes of a possible effective treatment for coronavirus. Remdesivir had been developed initially as a treatment for Ebola. However, recent scientific research shows that the drug could potentially serve as a prospect for treatment in the near term. According to a virologist named Timothy Sheahan, some of the drug’s benefits include its use as a therapeutic drug used in lessening the severity of the disease, a life-saver for hospitalized patients and as a prophylactic measure for hospital workers and even the community at large. According to Gilead Sciences, the manufacture of remdesivir has been increased to ramp up its rapid supply.

Before complete results from remdesivir clinical trials, doctors in several countries, including China, US and Italy, have already initiated the use of the drug in the treatment of patients with severe Covid-19. The drug is being used on a compassionate basis on a small number of Covid-19 patients. In the US, the drug showed effectiveness as a 35-year-old patient in Washington recovered upon administration. A Colombia University professor, David Ho, also agrees that remdesivir is quite a promising potential medication for the treatment of the virus. He states that in New York, the efforts to acquire the drug for a critically ill patient was underway. Regardless, full clinical trials are still required for the assessment of the effectiveness of the drug. As a result, multiple tests have been set up in Asia as well as in countries reported to have high numbers of Covid-19 patients. The trials will mainly focus on the comparison of two different doses of remdesivir. In addition, other drugs are being tested for possible treatment. They include Kaletra, which is an anti-HIV drug as well as hepatitis and malaria medicines. However, virologist Sheahan is quite sceptical on the potential effectiveness of Kaletra as well as lopinavir. Kaletra is used in combination with lopinavir to block the replication process of HIV. Head-to-head trials on mice and cells showed that lopinavir did not perform as well as remdesivir. Ho also asserts that trials into compounds such as Kaletra and hepatitis drugs do not have high chances of discovering something useful. In addition, problems with recruitment due to a decrease in the case loads could prove to be a challenge for the trials.

Hope for a possible effective treatment lies in remdesivir. How does this drug work? The effectiveness of remdesivir is enabled by the fact that all coronaviruses replicate in the same process. Remdesivir works by attacking the ability of the virus to replicate in the human body. Therefore, for the drug to work, the medication needs to be administered during the replication process rather than later, when too much damage has already occurred. Several animal studies have shown the drug’s effectiveness in deadly coronaviruses, namely Sars and Mers, mainly when it is administered as soon as the first symptoms appear. For instance, for Sars and Mers, after the onset of the early symptoms, the virus takes a week to ten days to reach its peak. This means that five to ten days is the most appropriate period to administer the medication. Success has also been shown in a variety of deadly coronaviruses such as the ones that cause a common cold as well as those known to infect pigs and bats.