Laboratories are mobilizing to provide medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible to stop the coronavirus epidemic. Several leads are promising, but it will be at least several weeks before the first treatments are marketed.
At the time of writing, no treatment or vaccine has yet been developed for the Covid-19 virus, which has already claimed more than 7,000 lives worldwide. But the research is getting organized. We’ll update you tomorrow.
On the treatment side
Let us recall first of all that since the disease is due to a virus, the coronavirus Sars-CoV2, and not a bacterium, antibiotics are ineffective (except to prevent superinfection).
In its press briefing on Monday 16 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) counted more than 300 ongoing clinical trials (including more than 80 in China) to develop treatments.
- The most serious lead seems to be an antiviral developed by the American laboratory Gilead. “There is currently only one drug that we believe could be truly effective. And that’s Remdesivir ,” confirmed Bruce Aylward, a WHO official, at a press conference. Initially developed to combat the ebola virus, but not yet commercialized, the drug has already been successfully tested on American patients by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, as well as on Chinese patients.
In a press release, Inserm announced forthcoming clinical trials at the European level for the Remdesivir, as well as for two other therapies, lopinavir, and a lopinavir+interferon combination, on 3,200 people, including 800 French people.
- Sanofi and Regeneron also announced on Monday, March 16, the start of clinical trials on 400 people to evaluate the efficacy of Kevzara, an immunosuppressant (which inhibits the activity of the immune system) already used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and which could help patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome.
- Hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial with anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity, is also being studied by researchers as a potential treatment for coronavirus, although there is no consensus on its efficacy.
- Plasma from previously infected patients can also help patients, especially those with severe conditions, to fight Covid-19. Since mid-February, Chinese health authorities have been calling on cured individuals to donate blood, testing it beforehand to ensure that it cannot transmit the virus.