By Amin Kef Sesay
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new coronavirus discovered after an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Scientifically, there isn’t currently a vaccine against developing COVID-19. Antibiotics are also ineffective because COVID-19 is a viral infection and not bacterial.
However, medical researchers are currently working on creating a vaccine specifically for this virus, as well as potential treatments for COVID-19.
The disease is more likely to cause symptoms in older adults and those with underlying health conditions. Most people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 experience: Fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue.
If symptoms are more severe, supportive treatments can only be available in the specialized hospitals that have been identified by the Ministry of Health at 34 Military Hospital and the China-Sierra Leone Friendship Hospital at Jui. This type of treatment may involve:
- Fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration
- Medication to reduce a fever
- Supplemental oxygen in more severe cases
- People who have difficulty breathing on their own due to COVID-19 may need a respirator.
What is being done to find an effective treatment?
Vaccines and treatment options for COVID-19 are currently being investigated around the world. There’s some evidence that certain medications may have the potential to be effective with regard to preventing illness or treating the symptoms of COVID-19.
However, researchers need to perform randomized controlled trials in humans before potential vaccines and other treatments become available. This may take several months or longer.
Here are some treatment options that are currently being investigated for protection against SARS-CoV-2 and treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.
Remdesivir – It is an experimental broad-spectrum antiviral drug originally designed to target Ebola. Researchers have found that remdesivir is highly effective at fighting the novel coronavirus in isolated cells.
This treatment is not yet approved in humans, but two clinical trials for this drug have been implemented in China. One clinical trial was recently also approved by the FDA in the United States.
Chloroquine – It is a drug that’s used to fight malaria and autoimmune diseases. It’s been in use for more than 70 years and is considered safe. Researchers have discovered that this drug is effective at fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus in studies done in test tubes.
At least 10 clinical trials are currently looking at the potential use of chloroquine as an option for combating the novel coronavirus.
Lopinavir and ritonavir – They are sold under the name Kaletra and are designed to treat HIV. In South Korea, a 54-year-old man was given a combination of these two drugs and had a significant reduction in his levels of the coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there could be benefits to using Kaletra in combination with other drugs.
APN01 – A clinical trial is set to start soon in China to examine the potential of a drug called APN01 to fight the novel coronavirus.
The scientists who first developed APN01 in the early 2000s discovered that a certain protein called ACE2 is involved in SARS infections. This protein also helped protect the lungs from injury due to respiratory distress.
From recent research, it turns out that the 2019 coronavirus, like SARS, also uses the ACE2 protein to infect cells in humans.
The randomized, dual-arm trial will look at the effect of the medication on 24 patients for 1 week. Half of the participants in the trial will receive the APN01 dru, and the other half will be given a placebo. If results are encouraging, larger clinical trials will be done.
Favilavir – China has approved the use of the antiviral drug favilavir to treat symptoms of COVID-19. The drug was initially developed to treat inflammation in the nose and throat.
Although the results of the study haven’t been released yet, the drug has supposedly shown to be effective in treating COVID-19 symptoms in a clinical trial of 70 people.