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Therapeutic medications against coronavirus infection Covid-19
Not only vaccines are being developed against the pandemic with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, but also drugs are being tested.
Although the development of vaccines against the new coronavirus is proceeding at an unprecedented p...ace, it is unlikely that they will be available for mass vaccination as early as 2020. Hopes are therefore pinned on finding drugs to treat those already infected more quickly.
Ongoing projects to redesignate therapeutic drugs
The focus is particularly on drugs that have already been approved for another disease or are at least in development. They can be converted more quickly than a completely new development.
A number of existing drugs are currently being tested for their suitability against the corona disease Covid-19. They usually belong to one of the following three groups:
Antiviral drugs that were originally developed for HIV, Ebola, hepatitis C, influenza, SARS or MERS (two diseases caused by other corona viruses) They are designed to block the reproduction of the viruses or prevent them from entering lung cells. An old anti-malaria drug is also being tested, whose effectiveness against viruses was only recently discovered.
Immunomodulators, which have been developed, for example, for rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel diseases. They are designed to limit the bodys defensive reactions in such a way that they do not cause more damage than the viruses themselves.
Medicines for lung patients, which have been developed, for example, against idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. They are intended to prevent the patients lungs from no longer being able to supply the blood with enough oxygen.
However, there are also projects for the development of new drugs.
More detailed information about the drugs and projects can be found further down on the page.
Gain clarity about the suitability of the drugs quickly
In several studies testing drugs against Covid-19 in China and elsewhere, only a few dozen patients were included; and often there was no direct comparison with patients receiving only basic medical treatment without additional medication. Such studies can be set up quickly, but often their results are inconclusive. Also, although there are many Covid-19 patients in clinics internationally, there are not so many that would allow comprehensive testing of all the drugs that are currently being proposed.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has therefore appealed to companies and research institutions to organise joint multinational, multi-arm, controlled and randomised patient studies for their drugs, if possible:
"Multinational" means that medical institutions in several countries are involved.
"Multi-arm" and "controlled" means that patients are divided into groups, each receiving a different treatment: All receive the same basic medical treatment, but each group except one also receives one of the drugs to be tested. In the last group (the control group), however, the basic medical treatment remains the same.
"Randomized" means that the patients who are willing to participate are randomly assigned to one of the groups.
Such studies, according to the EMA, would be more likely to lead to clear results about the suitability of drugs compared to small studies; results that would then also allow approval of the drugs against Covid-19.
Such a study was recently announced by the World Health Organization (WHO): In this study, called SOLIDARITY, four treatments with drugs that are eligible for re-functioning will be compared with each other and with the basic treatment alone. The study will therefore have the following "study arms" (= treatment types), in which several thousand patients are expected to participate - randomly distributed:
Basic treatment alone
Basic treatment + Remdesivir (inhibitor of the RNA polymerase of the virus)
Basic treatment + Ritonavir/Lopinavir (HIV drug)
Basic treatment + Ritonavir/Lopinavir (HIV drug) + Beta-Interferon (MS drug)
Basic treatment + chloroquine (malaria drug)
Medical institutions from Argentina, Iran and South Africa, among others, are to participate in the study. A monitoring board will regularly review interim results of the study and terminate study arms in which patients are no better (or even worse) off than in the control group. It is also possible to add further arms to the study, in which other additional treatments will then be tested.