Recently, a number of clinical trials have been set up and started to test various existent drugs for the treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic as research had already shown that re-purposing medicines may be a faster and economical way to find treatment for the coronavirus infection rather than developing new drugs.
Some of the most hyped trials include the ones testing anti-malarial such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and arthritis medication. However, none have reported improvements or benefits so far.
In fact, some drugs have actually caused more side effects rather than helping in the treatment of COVID-19 such as hydroxychloroquine which was expected to work the fastest among all others.
The World Health Organization’s newest statement had to warn people regarding the use of anti-malarial drugs without a prescription as they were noted to cause abnormal heart rhythms and other heart-related conditions.
The severity of the effects can vary from one person to another but high doses of the anti-malarial drugs can lead to life-threatening conditions eventually. Therefore, self-medication with hydroxychloroquine or the use of the drug in a hospital setting is not recommended.
Now, the clinical trial testing the antiviral drug Remdesivir called the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial has shown hope. It is the first one among all others to report the benefits of using the drug in COVID-19 patients so far.
More specifically, the researchers noted that the drug was effective in cutting down the time of recovery from the coronavirus infection.
The patients who took Remdesivir as a part of their treatment recovered thirty percent faster than those who took a placebo.
Anthony Fauci, who oversaw the clinical trial and is one of the leading epidemiologists in the US, stated that “The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,”
In comparison with other drugs, Remdesivir did not create much hype. Previously, the drug had also been tested for other viral infections including for HIV in a clinical trial in the 1980s and in a WHO-funded study for Ebola.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a small-scale Chinese study also looked at the drug as a potential treatment for the infection but reported no such benefits as the latest trial did.
The latest findings on Remdesivir now have brought hope to the researchers and scientists. Even though the US has been noted to slowly enter one of the worst economic slumps, the findings were enough to lead to a rebound in Wall Street following the news.
However, the senior official at the World Health Organization, Michael Ryan has declined to give any comments on the findings of the trial on behalf of the health organization yet.
He had specifically said that “We are all hoping—fervently hoping—that one or more of the treatments currently under observation and under the trial will result in altering clinical outcomes and reducing deaths.”
Since the previous trials have not shown positive effects in more thorough and large-scale trials despite their reported benefits in multiple small studies before, many authorities are assumed to be hesitant in weighing in on any drugs in testing for the time being.
The reason for this may be to not make people take the specific drug in the trial on their own and experience unwanted consequences. Such actions can hinder the entire progress on the COVID-19 pandemic and lead to further spread of the infection.
Where the trial on Remdesivir may be a scientific breakthrough, it is important to wait for further investigation and for the drug to get official approval so that it can be used for the treatment of the coronavirus infection.