Three months into the pandemic, it is still relatively unclear which drugs can work and which won’t, here is a list of some promising clinical tests and an update of where things stand.
1. Hydroxychloroquine - Sold under the brand name Plaquenil, hydroxychloroquine has been around for decades as a treatment for malaria and for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus .
Updates - Clinical trials are underway and doctors in multiple countries, including France, China, South Korea and the United States have reported success in treating Covid-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, sometimes paired with the antibiotic azithromycin.
Caution - It IS an over-the-counter drug to be administered under medical guidance. Full description of uses, side effects, precautions, interactions and overdoses listed here.
2. Coronavirus survivors’ Plasma exchange - also known as plasmapheresis, is a way to ‘cleanse’ your blood, by replacing the plasma (liquid part of your blood) with the plasma of a donor.
Updates - Chinese authorities have reported success treating infected patients with donated plasma from survivors of the illness, the proposed benefit being protective antibodies formed by the survivors. France began clinical trials today (April 8th) with US and UK trials expected to start in the coming week.
3. Remdesivir - is a novel antiviral drug originally developed as a treatment for Ebola though subsequently found to show antiviral activity against respiratory syncytial viruses and the coronaviruses (including MERS and SARS viruses).
Updates : Remdesivir is being studied in five large clinical trials (in France, UK, Canada, USA and China) , two of which could read out results in early April.
Caution : Remdesivir has not been approved by regulatory authorities anywhere in the world.
As of yesterday, 8th April 2020, there are 78 confirmed COVID-19 vaccine candidates, 5 of which have already entered clinical trials. Of the 78 confirmed active projects, 73 are currently at exploratory or preclinical stages.
Access full list here