The race for the Coronavirus cure is on. As countries scramble to stem the tide of cases and flatten the curve, an international conglomerate of scientists and biomedical researchers are desperately seeking a remedy for the pandemic. Despite the fact that the first phase 1 study (human trials) of a potential vaccine—mRNA-1273—has been launched at record speeds, we are still months and months away from having a proven COVID-19 antidote.
In the meantime, scientists and researchers have turned to repurposing other medicines—some, decades old—to treat patients infected with the disease or, at least, to lessen the potentially deadly symptoms. Some of these drugs you may have heard of, others might be new to you; but they should be administered only with a doctor’s prescription or recommendation.
While the potential drugs listed below have shown early signs of improving symptoms in many patients diagnosed with COVID-19, conclusive proof is not available. Additionally, your case should be considered individually.
With this in mind, here is information on the potential drugs doctors and researchers in South Korea, France, and America have been considering:
Azithromycin colloquially known as Z-Pak, is a macrolide-type antibiotic commonly used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. Thus far, no research has indicated it can be used on its own to treat Coronavirus, however, when a fixed dose is used in conjunction with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, both medicines were found to have been more effective.
Sold under the brand name Plaquenil, hydroxychloroquine is a globally available disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) that has been repurposed for various medical uses since 1955. Hydroxychloroquine is used to prevent and treat malaria and is often used for autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Hydroxychloroquine interactions with patients suffering from COVID-19 have been extremely positive, with practically every early study and trial demonstrating its efficacy at improving the symptoms and even fighting off the virus.
Chloroquine phosphate is a synthetic derivative of quinine and has been used as an antimalarial since 1934. An analogue of hydroxychloroquine—meaning, a similar structure but different chemical and biological properties—it has greater toxicity and should only be used as prescribed by doctors.
So far, it has been used to help fight the COVID-19-associated pneumonia.
Oseltamivir, sold as Tamiflu, is an antiviral medicine used to prevent the flu and treat symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, fever, chills, aches, and tiredness. Although there are no signs that it prevents or shortens the duration of COVID-19, it has been used by doctors to help alleviate the symptoms.
Lopinavir is an antiviral that is regularly combined with Ritonavir to control and treat HIV infections. In regard to Coronavirus, it is not being treated as a cure, but has demonstrated some efficacy in reducing serious adverse events and for standard care of symptoms.
The first Lopinavir study is:
Ritonavir, commonly sold as Norvir, is an antiretroviral medication that’s regularly combined with Lopinavir to treat and relieve symptoms of HIV and AIDS. For COVID-19, the early results are similar to that of Lopinavir—moderate efficacy at alleviating symptoms, but is not a treatment.
One study worth mentioning is: