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As cases of COVID-19 continue around the world, scientists are developing many drugs and therapies to treat people already suffering from the novel coronavirus. While vaccines have been making progress, it may take a while for there to be a truly effective cure. The Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank, estimates 316 treatments currently being studied worldwide as well as 203 vaccines.
Here are some of the potential COVID-19 treatments that are looking promising:
Dexamethasone is a very cheap drug found around the world that has been shown to save lives. A paper last month by the French government’s scientific advisory committee cited dexamethasone in lowering deaths among patients needing breathing assistance. In the Oxford University-based Recovery trial, the dexamethasone was responsible for the survival of one in eight patients on ventilators. After the results were announced in mid-June, the steroid has become a standard treatment for the sickest patients as The Guardian reported.
As a steroid, dexamethasone can make it more difficult to regulate blood sugar and potentially lead to high blood pressure, so the drug must be administered with these risks in mind.
Remdesivir, an antiviral medication, has shown much promise. It has been for emergency use in the US, India and Singapore and approved in the European Union, Japan, and Australia for use on people with severe symptoms.
Studies have shown remdesivir can shorten hospital stays and help hospitalized patients improve more quickly, as STAT has reported. A recent study on remdesivir produced by the US company Gilead Sciences “suggests modest clinical benefit for the 5-day course compared with standard care, although, as the authors acknowledge, the clinical importance of this finding is uncertain.”
Tocilizumab, an antibody normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, was also cited in the paper from the French government’s scientific advisory committee. The drug showed some benefit for Italian patients during the serious COVID-19 outbreak in March but the numbers were relatively small and this was just an observational study. While some recent trials have been disappointing, other studies have noted that treatment with tocilizumab might help patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
Source: Penn State Health/Youtube
While the world continues to search for a cure, scientists have worked to develop treatments to help patients already suffering from COVID-19. Llama antibodies, antibody cocktails, and other drugs are currently being tested. However, it can be difficult to know the actual benefits of various drugs when the Trump administration has been spreading misinformation regarding various treatments.
Still, studies on dexamethasone, remdesivir, and tocilizumab have looked most promising in potentially helping people hospitalized with the virus and keep them from dying.
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