After tons of research and currently undergoing ones, we can say that there is no cure for this SARS-CoV-2, causing illness. Also, there are no best COVID-19 treatments even after many months into the pandemic; the potential drugs are still undergoing clinical trials. This means that there are still more months to go before the public can get a hold of them.
Also, COVID-19 does not affect everyone the same way. While some have mild or no symptoms, others experience severe pneumonia, shortness of breath, damage of the lungs, and extreme reactions by the immune system, which may be damaging to the vital organs. Because of this, thetreatments that are a bit reliable cannot be used for every COVID-19 case.
Here are the available treatments, how they work, and the circumstances they can be used.
These are a form of antimicrobial drugs; they include antibiotics. But contrasting the antibiotics which destroy the harmful bacteria and sometimes the good one too, antiviral drugs can stop viruses from reproducing and attacking the system. They are designed to identify the target viruses and attack them only, leaving the human cells.
Of all the antiviral treatment of COVID-19, the most promising of them is a production by Gilead Sciences called Remdesivir. This medication is not new. In fact, the original purpose for creating it was for the treatment of Hepatitis, Ebola, and other viral diseases, but it was ineffective against them. When the pandemic hit the peak as of May, doctors were in desperate need of the solution, and this led to the clinical trial of this drug for COVID-19. This treatment was able to lower the recovery time of patients from the typical 15 days to 11. Still,the differencein the mortality rate among those with severe symptoms was not significant. After investigation, results showed that the drugs are more effective for treating less severe cases of COVID-19.
This drug has the authorisation for emergency use for these two purposes. However, the strength of the medicine is still being criticised.
There have been continuous researches on the effectiveness of other antivirals. However, there is no recorded success for any that is close to that of Remdesivir. But Favipiravir, a drug which stops the replication of SARS-CoV-2 is currently undergoing clinical trials as it showed a promising result. Another is the MK-4482 produced by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. It began its phase 3 of the clinical trial in October. There are many others from the same class of antivirals which are currently undergoing late stages of lab testing or have proceeded to the early stage of clinical trials. However, there are no definite results for any of them yet. Some of them include Recombinant ACE-2, which bonds to SARS-CoV-2 and prevent it from bonding to human cells. But this is,however, to be tested in animals or humans.
The highly celebrated hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are also under the class of antivirals, but both of them are yet to show promising results. These two medications designed for the treatment of malaria were believed to be helpful to stop the new coronavirus from reproducing. Still, there are no pieces of evidence from concrete studies to confirm this.
Back then, the FDA offered this drug emergency use authorisation for the treatment of COVID-19 but took it away when data showed that the drug could cause severe side effects. Though there are no current trials for this job done by the World Health Organisation and other major medical groups, there are still some people that are currently undergoing trials for it.
Medications that affect the response and functioning of the line system
Since there are no drugs to cure the coronavirus or stop it from replicating in the body, scientists have been seeking ways to boost the immune system to fight against it. One of the treatments or proposed treatment is called convalescent plasma. This treatment works by first getting the blood out of patients who survived the disease and are now free from it. This blood will be handed to doctors; they will separate the plasma and discard the remaining part of the blood. The doctor will then infuse the plasma into the bloodstream of those currently battling with the disease to help them overcome it too. The antibodies of SARS-CoV-2 are contained in the plasma, and this plasma belongs to those who have already overcome the disease. It will provide the current immune system of those undergoing the sickness with the antibodies it needs to create to combat SARS-CoV-2.
Convalescent plasma is not a new idea as it was used to treat the flu pandemic in 1918. However, the previous series of tests have not been able to prove it to be credible or useful. Despite these, Mayo clinic is conducting a large clinical trial on the treatment with thousands of patients. The FDA also granted the treatment emergency use authorisation in late August. As of September 1, there was a statement issued by the National Institute of Health that limited the approval of the FDA for the use of this treatment. They said that they were no well supported clinical trials that provide data to show the efficiency and safety of the therapy for COVID-19.
Another treatment similar to these has been getting far more attention. This relies on the monoclonal antibodies, and it is a treatment that’s more targeted than the previous one. Plasma has many antibodies in it, and some of them are only effective for fending off the coronavirus. But this new development for fighting COVID-19 helps them identify, isolate, and reproduce them in the lab. Researchers believe that this can make it more reliable when infused into situations. Also, monoclonal antibodies are not very new concepts. The method is successful by aiding the body to produce targeted immune responses against many diseases over the past couple of years.
Eli Lily and Regeneron, two drug companies, initiated the early clinical trials for the products of monoclonal antibody. However, we cannot tell for sure how safe or used to this treatment will be for treating COVID-19. This is because the in-house data from Regeneron about its efficiency is only based on just Hundreds of patients.
Steroids and other immune system influencing drugs
Dexamethasone and other commonly used steroids have been found to help reduce the effects of the immune system response. Some experiences from people with COVID-19 on their immune system showed intense reactions to the pathogens, which sometimes led to severe inflammation of the lungs and other vital organs which are life-threatening.
Over the last six months, doctors have discovered that the use of the steroid, as mentioned above, can reduce these reactions. In fact, a study that enrolled over 6000 people prove that the steroid is effective and reduced about one-third of death in patients on ventilators and one fifth for the people with supplemental oxygen.
Nevertheless, there is a side effect of this treatment. Since steroid reduces the effect of the immune system that fight against the coronavirus, the therapy can reduce the body’s ability to pipe low the activities of the virus. This is the reason this drug is only used in people with severe cases of COVID-19. Here, the need for reducing the life-threatening effects of the immune system is greater than the risk of a lowered immune system response. If this drug is given to patients with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19, it may increase their sickness since the immune system is no longer effective to fight against the virus.
There have also been investigations about molecules called interferons. These proteins are naturally produced by our bodies to help fight against invading viruses. Researchers in the UK, US, and China started making lab versions of interferons and investigated how they can be useful in fighting against COVID-19. The National Institute of health in August began the third phase clinical trial of Subcutaneous interferon beta-la (a drug produced by Merck), and it is already approved for use in many countries. However, there is no announcement of when the results will be pronounced to the public.
Doctors have investigated a wide range of drugs, supplements, and treatments, and they suspect that they may also help in the treatment of COVID-19. However, none of them has shown real benefits.
Some of these drugs include famotidine (an antacid with the brand name Pepcid, useful for the treatment of heartburn), Vitamin D, zinc, etc. Researches have proved that vitamin D has helped improve the function of the immune system and some studies have also linked between the higher rate of COVID-19 and a lower rate of vitamin D. However, no study has been able to stand out to defend the influence of vitamin D over the outcomes of COVID-19.
Also, there is a little buzz about zinc which is the primary component of the homoeopathic therapy Cold-Eezr. There is a quantifiable amount of data that proves that zinc helps reduce the symptoms of the common cold when taken early. The shape of zinc makes it possible for it to attach to the virus, causing cold and prevent it from sticking to the human cells. However, there are some limitations to this ability, as it does not entirely prevent or cure a cold. It’s only effective for reducing the symptoms of the cold when it is taken immediately after infection. Though they are two types of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold are not the same, and there are no pieces of evidence that zinc can function the same way in COVID-19 cases.
Famotidine (Pepcid) has also been researched, and some early evidence showed that this heartburn medication could help deal with the symptoms of COVID-19; however, its modus operandi is not very clear since it has not yet been thoroughly investigated. Also, a preprint meta-analysis which is not yet peer-reviewed has found this medication to reduce the risk of mortality in COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms. However, the study informed us that there is a need for more evidence before the doctors can start using the drug for routine treatment.