- There are currently no FDA-approved treatments or vaccines for the coronavirus.
- But researchers are developing numerous ways to repurpose existing drugs to potentially treat coronavirus patients.
- Although a cure is a long way away, here are some of the drugs scientists are looking at as potential coronavirus treatments.
- View more episodes of Business Insider Today on Facebook.
Researchers are hard at work developing potential treatments or vaccines for the coronavirus.
There are no FDA-approved treatments right now, but experts are looking closely at existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus patients.
Although we’re still a long way from a cure, here are four of the antiviral drugs scientists are looking at right now.
One short-term solution could be an anti-Ebola drug called remdesivir.
One potential short-term solution to the coronavirus crisis is remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug that was previously tested as a treatment for Ebola.
The antiviral was developed by Gilead Sciences, a large biotechnology company. Gilead has been working on the drug since 2009, and executives said in a matter of weeks, we can expect data on whether the drug works to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump has touted the drug as having a “real chance” against the disease, and the World Health Organisation called it “the most promising candidate therapy.”
Right now, remdesivir is being tested in patients who have severe to moderate cases of COVID-19.
Another solution could be Kaletra, an HIV drug currently in trial testing.
Another drug researchers are looking at is Kaletra, an HIV drug manufactured by AbbVie.
However, early research into Kaletra’s effectiveness as a coronavirus cure have been disappointing.
Chinese scientists found in a study last month that the drug didn’t improve patient mortality rates, reduce the detectable amount of the virus, or shorten hospital stays, according to Business Insider’s Andy Dunn.
But in Australia, University of Queensland researchers have said that when combined with another drug, chloroquine, Kaletra led to the recovery of some of the first COVID-19 patients in the country.
Chloroquine is an anti-malaria drug that’s been around since 1949.
Chloroquine is another drug Trump has highlighted as a potential coronavirus treatment.
Chloroquine is a widely prescribed anti-malaria pill that was approved by the FDA following World War II.
“This drug was first approved in 1949 by the US, so there’s a long safety profile where we understand the toxicity and how to take the drug,” Dunn said.
Early research and anecdotal reports suggest the drug may be able to fight COVID-19, which would make it stand out as a cheap and scalable solution.
“Some countries, including China, South Korea, and even Belgium, have put chloroquine directly in their treatment guidelines for coronavirus,” Dunn said.
But more clinical trials are needed to know for sure.
Scientists are trying to develop preventive treatments in the form of monoclonal antibodies.
Various companies are working to develop preventive coronavirus treatments in the form of monoclonal antibodies – a type of protein that uses natural immune system functions to neutralise viruses.
“There’s a potential that they could be used prophylactically, which means when you look at a high-risk patient population – healthcare workers, family members of COVID-19 patients – those could be the targeted groups for a prophylactic antibody, which would essentially protect that person from being infected,” Dunn said.
Back in January, shares of the obscure company Vir Biotechnology soared following an announcement it was working on such a treatment for the coronavirus.
“This is very early research. None of these are in clinical testing yet. They’re still being developed in laboratories,” Dunn said. “But the speed of this pandemic has forced drugmakers to act as quickly as possible.”
But a vaccine is still the gold standard of drug development, and it could take several months to make one.
Although these drugs offer short-term and medium-term solutions, a vaccine for coronavirus is still the “gold standard,” Dunn said.
Unlike other treatments, a vaccine would actually prevent coronavirus infections, as opposed to treating those who have already contracted it.
Top US health officials have estimated the timeline at 12 to 18 months to determine if a vaccine is safe and effective against this virus, Dunn said.
When that day comes, Dunn said, “The questions that remain are about price and access.”
“Who would get it first, and what would the price be??