In just about 2 months since the novel coronavirus rose from a regional crisis to a global threat, drug makers large and small have scrambled for coronavirus vaccine development from around the world.
The anti-flu drug: favipiravir
A Japanese firm, Fujifilm has reportedly developed an effective drug called favipiravir to COVID-19 coronavirus. The drug was approved as an investigational therapy to be trailed for coronavirus infection. The results were encouraging and it was successful in its trial phase. It turned patients with coronavirus negative from positive after a median of 4 days which was significant compared to 11 days to get negative with no drug use.
The anti-malaria drug: chloroquine
Chloroquine, a commonly used drug to treat malaria since the 1940s has been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19 patients. The drug was used in China and France, where it showed some promising results. Doctors in China, South Korea, and France have agreed that the treatments seem to help patients, though more tests and trials are needed to determine if it is to be used around the world to treat coronavirus patients.
Blood Plasma-derived Therapy
Another Japan pharma giant Takeda is working on the treatment that is derived from the blood of Covid-19 patients. This company is drawing blood from virus-infected survivors by gathering the plasma and finally by isolating the protective antibodies that will keep those patients alive. Blood transfusion to combat viral outbreak has been used since 1918 when the Spanish Flu pandemic spread around the world which claimed 5 million deaths. For the treatment of coronavirus, the company says that the launch of the therapy will take 12-18 months.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) Therapy
Germany’s BioNTech has started working on an mRNA vaccine for coronavirus clinical testing in April. The company is using strands of mRNA to prompt the production of protective antibodies. Earlier in March, Shanghai Fonus Pharma has signed a deal to market BioNTech’s vaccine in China. If China approves it then Pfizer has agreed to co-develop and distribute the vaccine around the world.
Canadian firm and Eli Lilly have also partnered to create antibody treatments for the coronavirus infection. AbCellera has identified more than 500 antibodies that protect the person against the virus, they did it by collecting the blood sample from coronavirus survivor. Now, these two companies are aiming to have a treatment ready for human trials from April to onward 3 months.
The Ebola drug: remdesivir
In the race for coronavirus vaccine development, a drug originally developed for treating the Ebola virus has now emerged as a frontrunner among potential antiviral drugs to treat Covid-19. Studies conducted recently have shown that it works against Sars and Mers, the other two coronaviruses that were more lethal but less transmissible. Sars outbreak was in 2002 and Mers in 2011. The drug shuts off a virus’s ability to replicate itself inside cells. This is significant as it means that it can be even effective when a person has just got the virus and the virus is still reproducing in the upper respiratory tract. In Italy, a patient has successfully recovered from coronavirus after being given the drug. Multiple trials are underway to evaluate remdesivir in China, the US, and Asia, with the first results due in April.
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