Labs across the world are racing to find a cure for the rapidly spreading COVID-19, but successful treatments for the disease may already be here.
Back in December, news of a mysterious illness was hitting China and unassuming Americans watching on with curiosity. Fast forward to the current day, and millions of us are in panic mode, wondering if we or our loved ones will become victims of the disease. We may have less reason to worry, however, because new treatments are providing hope for patients who have symptoms - and they don’t include a vaccine.
Two Existing Medications Are Already Helping Patients
A study done by a French biomedical lab last week discovered a potential contender in the fight against the virus: a combination of hydroxychloroquine (an anti-malaria drug) and azithromycin (an antibiotic). The two drugs would help prevent the virus from entering other cells in the body, and therefore, stop it from further causing illness.
Dr. Mehmet Oz sounded optimistic in his review of the potential treatment, "They gave [out] two already-existing medications. These medications were remarkably effective in reducing the viral load in people who had COVID-19."
After the entire course of treatment, patients had no virus remaining.
After six days of being given the powerful drug combination, patients no longer had the virus symptoms, and after the entire course of treatment, they had no virus remaining. President Trump gave U.S. healthcare workers the green light to administer the two drugs as “off-label” treatments, meaning they are allowed to be used for reasons other than their original purposes.
Doctors are continuing to monitor the results, and patients who have acquired the disease are willing to undergo the new treatment.
Plasma Is a Possible Treatment for COVID-19
Arturo Casadevall, chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is seeking out the antibodies of previously infected patients for protection from and the treatment of the Coronavirus.
When a person has an infection, their body enlists its natural defenses in the immune system to fight the infection. Our blood contains special cells that find “invaders” - like a virus - and create a unique protein marker, called antibodies, that tag the virus and alert other cells to kill it, thus fighting the infection. Once the infection is destroyed, the antibodies stay in our blood. So someone who has had COVID-19 has a specific COVID-19 antibody in their blood. They could donate their plasma, which contains the antibodies, to help someone else’s immune system be prepared. (This is the same basic concept of vaccines, but with antibodies.)
A survivor could donate their plasma, which contains the COVID-19 antibodies, to help someone else’s immune system be prepared.
Casadevall suggests that the plasma from COVID-19 patients will help to protect and treat others suffering from the virus. While the lab is seeking further permission from the FDA to roll out more clinical trials, the treatment shows promise in effectively preventing the disease.
Remdesivir Seems To Be Effective Too
Remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug, may hold a key in the fight against the pandemic. When the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the United States in a man from Washington, he was given Remdesivir when his condition worsened and he recovered the next day. Another patient from California thought not to survive was also given the drug and recovered.
A patient from California thought not to survive was given Remdesivir and recovered.
Researchers from China who have studied the coronavirus tout this drug as being safe in higher dosages, and a viral infections researcher from the University of Iowa, Stanley Perlman, suggests that Remdesivir can be given to patients with mild symptoms.
With researchers fervently searching for a cure, the chance of surviving the virus remains optimistically high. Keep in mind that the fatality rate for people who contract COVID-19 is surprisingly low (1.4%), and healthcare workers are taking every possible protocol to ensure the health and safety of the public.