COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new coronavirus discovered after an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Since the initial outbreak, this coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, has spread to more than 100 countries around the world and has affected many thousands of people.
As yet, there’s no vaccine against the novel coronavirus. 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:
- shortness of breath
Keep reading to learn more about the current coronavirus treatment options and what types of treatments are being explored.
What type of coronavirus treatment is available?
There currently isn’t a vaccine against developing COVID-19. Antibiotics are also ineffective because COVID-19 is a viral infection and not bacterial.
If your symptoms are more severe, supportive treatments may be given by your doctor or at a hospital. 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 a hard time breathing on their own due to COVID-19 may need a respirator.
What is being done to find an effective treatment of coronavirus?
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 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 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
Lopinavir and ritonavir 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.
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 drug, and the other half will be given a placebo. If results are encouraging, larger clinical trials will be done.
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.
The bottom line
At this point in time, there’s no vaccine to protect you from the novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. There also are no special medications approved to treat the symptoms of COVID-19.
However, researchers around the world are working hard to develop potential vaccines and treatments.
There’s emerging evidence that some medications may have the potential to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. More large-scale testing is needed to determine if these treatments are safe. Clinical trials for these drugs could take several months.
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