Covid19 Race for coronavirus cure

As the world grapples with Coronavirus pandemic, researchers are racing against time to find an immediate cure for the disease and also develop a vaccine against the new respiratory pathogen. India will now be part of a global effort, initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to simultaneously test four potential therapies by comparing the efficacy of each of them. This international study provides an unprecedented opportunity to come together as one against a common enemy.

The unique initiative is designed to generate robust data to show which treatments are the most effective. At present, there is no specific antivirals to treat Covid-19, the disease caused by novel Coronavirus. In the absence of reliable medication, supportive care is the only treatment option available to the medical professionals.

While a viable vaccine is at least one year away, there is an urgent need to find effective therapeutics to save the lives of severely ill patients. It is here that the WHO-initiated solidarity trials will play a crucial role in speeding up the process of examining four different therapies that involve repurposing the existing drugs for other viral diseases. In addition to India, several countries across the world including China, Canada, Norway, Spain, Argentina, Bahrain, France, Iran, South Africa and Thailand are participating in the trial.

Since development of drug molecule from the scratch will take several years, the researchers are now dusting up the existing antiviral drugs to treat the critically ill, in view of the urgency.

These include medications used for treating HIV virus and molecules found to be effective in animal studies against the related coronavirus diseases.

Covid19 Race for coronavirus cure

Covid19 Race for coronavirus cure

The drugs used for treating Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) show promise, as also the drug developed to arrest the Ebola outbreak.

All the medications available are pulled out from dusty cabinets to provide an effective treatment to the Covid-19. In animal models, scientists have found that remdesivir, which was developed to treat Ebola, can knock down similar coronaviruses, such as the ones that cause MERS and SARS. Similarly, another group of researchers found that chloroquine —a widely used anti-malarial and autoimmune disease drug— was also effective in stopping the virus from spreading in human cells.

In fact, the United States President Donald Trump has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release orders placed by America for hydroxychloroquine, a prophylactic for health care workers fighting against coronavirus.

India is one of the largest manufacturers of hydroxychloroquine, used for treatment of malaria and lupus, and is stockpiling the drug in the event of a worst case scenario and will lift the export control order only after it has enough to take care of all the people.
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