Photograph —

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a statement that some treatments for the new coronavirus seem to have limited the severity or length of the COVID-19 disease in patients. Therefore, the WHO shall be focusing on learning more about four or five of the most promising ones.

In an address to the press, Margaret Harris, the WHO spokeswoman said: “We do have some treatments that seem to be in very early studies limiting the severity or the length of the illness but we do not have anything that can kill or stop the virus.” By this statement, she made reference to the WHO’s Solidarity Trial for the Treatment against  COVID-19.

Although the WHO spokeswoman mentioned no specific treatment, Harris said: “We do have potentially positive data coming out, but we need to see more data to be 100 percent confident that we can say this treatment over that one.” Studies are currently suggesting that combinations of antiviral medicines may help patients fight off the virus.

An American biopharmaceutical company, Gilead Science Inc, says its antiviral drug known as remdesivir, has aided to improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients. Its recent clinical data on remdesivir indicates that it might be an effective treatment, even though the drug is still in the investigational stage in the treatment of the new coronavirus.

According to the United States’ National Institute for Health (NIH), a randomised and controlled clinical trial, which evaluates the safety and efficacy of a treatment regimen of the remdesivir drug plus the anti-inflammatory drug, baricitinib, for COVID-19 has begun. The trial is currently enrolling hospitalized adults with the disease in the United States. 

Recently, a similar trial in Hong Kong showed a triple-drug combination of antiviral medicines helped relieve symptoms in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection, dramatically reducing the amount of the virus in their bodies. About 127 patients were involved in the trial and the drugs used include lopinavir-ritonavir (HIV drug), ribavirin ( hepatitis drug) and interferon beta ( multiple sclerosis drug) with a controlled group treated with just the HIV drug.

Notwithstanding, Harris warned that coronaviruses, in general, are “very tricky viruses” that are “difficult to produce vaccines against.” This reiterates a statement the WHO made in April, that a vaccine could take at least 12 months to discover. Still, over 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including several in clinical trials.

The WHO is currently leading a global initiative to develop safe and effective vaccines, tests and drugs to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19, through its “Solidarity” clinical trial for COVID-19 treatment. The solidarity is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19, launched by the World Health Organization and partners. 

The Solidarity Trial will compare four treatment options against a standard of care, to assess their relative effectiveness against COVID-19. The Solidarity Trial aims to rapidly discover whether any of the drugs slow disease progression or improve survival,  enrolling patients in multiple countries.

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow