The COVID-19 saga: Finding a Cure

Part 4

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More drugs are being studied, being put on trial, and tested as we speak. For a list of drugs currently being studied for efficacy against CoviD-19 Read: All the COVID-19 vaccines and treatments currently in clinical trials.

As stated in the page, the drugs are in the early stages of testing and taking them without supervision can have tragic consequences – like the Arizona man who died taking a form of chloroquine used to clean fish tanks. Though there are many drugs on the list, the unfortunate truth is that many of them won’t progress to wider testing or use, because they’ll prove either unsafe or ineffective.

(READ: The CoviD-19 saga: Finding a Cure – Part 3)

Various notable mentions: Ribavarin and Umifevir (Arbidol)

On the early days of the pandemic, Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Diagnosis and Treatment Plan (Provisional 7th Edition) by China indicated the use of Ribavirin, a drug primarily used for Hepatitis C and Viral Hemorrhagic Fever and Umifenovir, an antiviral for Influenza when treating patients with CoviD-19. Ribavarin was shown to reduce adverse clinical outcomes when combined with Lopinavir / Ritonavir in a 2004 study against SARS-CoV, but there’s no evidence to conclude it’s efficacy for SARS-CoV-2. Umifevir has seen an interest in Italy, dubbing it “a potential miracle cure”.

But according to experts in Russia, any evidence for its effectiveness is thin on the ground – even calling it obsolete.

Teicoplanin

Surprisingly Antibiotic Drugs are also being repurposed. Usually, doctors do not recommend using antibiotics to treat viruses. In this case, however, researchers sought drugs that they could repurpose as antiviral agents. Teicoplanin, an antibiotic used to treat staphylococci infection, previously showed efficacy to inhibit the first stage of the MERS-CoV viral cycle in human cells. This activity is conserved on the SARS-CoV-2, thus placing teicoplanin as a potential treatment for patients with this virus.

Ivermectin

Ivermectin is an antiparasite drug used to treat many types of parasitic infections and infestations. This includes head lice, scabies, onchocerciasis – river blindness, strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis.

It works by causing the parasite’s cell membrane to increase in permeability, resulting in paralysis and death. Ivermectin has been widely used in veterinary medicine against intestinal parasites on cows, as a prophylaxis for heart worm infections in dogs, and occasionally as an additive to antiparasite spray for select reptiles.

In a cell culture study published in the April 2020 edition of Antiviral Research, scientists at Monash University in Australia found, within two days, a single treatment of ivermectin created a 5000-fold decrease in viral RNA.

This suggests that ivermectin could prevent SARS-CoV-2 from replicating. While this looks promising, note that there are still no published randomized, controlled clinical trials testing this drug’s effectiveness in treating Covid-19.

Again as with the case of the person who died of Hydroxychloriquine, the FDA is concerned about the health of consumers who may self-medicate by taking Ivermectin products intended for animals, thinking they can be a substitute for Ivermectin intended for humans – please don’t.

Intravenous Vitamin C

There are three ongoing clinical trials of intravenous vitamin C for people who are hospitalized and severely ill with COVID-19; two placebo controlled (China, Canada) and one with no control (Italy). Vitamins are currently used in conjunction to various experimental treatments for CoviD-19, they serve primarily as supplements rather than cure. Various Studies with supplement vitamins can be found here In Clinical Trials.gov

Others: Ciclesonide and APN01

Japan’s National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM) is planning a clinical trial for Teijin’s Alvesco (ciclesonide), an inhaled corticosteroid for asthma, for the treatment of pre-symptomatic patients infected with the CoviD-19. Another drug, named APN01 which is a form of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, is going to it’s Phase II trial with 200 patients to be recruited from severe, hospitalized cases in Denmark, Germany, and Austria to determine the effectiveness of the treatment.

Drug shortages amid Fear and Panic

While CoviD-19 is currently the world’s center of attention for diseases, it is not the only disease and illness being fought by our healthcare professionals, and it should be noted that there are still patients with cancer treatment, on dialysis and maintenance medications who need support, moreso in this pandemic. In a press conference last month (March) US President Trump said that Hydroxychloroquine and the Z-pack (Azithromycin) as a combination, probably, is a good treatment for CoviD-19, inadvertedly causing US citizens to panic buy these prescription drugs.

While studies are currently undergoing with the use of both, most of the cases the drug combination were used for were mild, and no evidence concludes that this combination is safe and effective. What the POTUS’ presscon did however was allegedly cause a mass hoarding amidst a worried america and it lead to the continued shortages of both drugs. Azithromycin is widely used as an STD medication among others in the states and it is the only medication given to pregnant patients with chlamydia, and with and shortages of the drug, those in need of it will be unable to take their meds.

Same with Hydroxychloriquine shortages, which created a problem for those who use that drug for treating Lupus and arthritis. This would serve as a lesson again, to not be driven by panic when a drug is presented to the public and that our leaders should be careful of their statements amid a fear struck community. With this in mind we must continue to brace ourselves for the days ahead, stay correctly informed, and stay safe.

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