Using existing drugs to treat the coronavirus instead of waiting for the development of a vaccine may be a quicker way to tackle the pandemic, say researchers.
In a paper published Monday by the British Journal of Pharmacology, a team of international experts said there is no “magic bullet” for eliminating COVID-19 but by repurposing other medications, we may be able to tackle certain aspects of its behavior until we finally develop an effective vaccine.
There are at least 108 COVID-19 vaccines being developed around the world and these may take over a year to prove safe and effective, according to CNBC.
The British scientists say that a “multi-pronged approach” is the best way to combat the virus at the present time, according to the Daily Mail.
“Any drug to treat COVID-19 will need to focus on the three key stages of infection,” said the author of the paper, cardiovascular pharmacologist Anthony Davenport, of the University of Cambridge. These are, he explained, “preventing the virus from entering our cells in the first place, stopping it from replicating if it does get inside the cells, and reducing the damage that occurs to our tissues such as damage to the heart and lungs.”
Tracking down existing drugs that work by targeting the key proteins on our cells that attract the virus could speed up the development of an effective treatment for the coronavirus, said Davenport, according to CNBC.
One of the most promising drugs, said the researchers, is Gilead’s remdesivir, a drug that was originally developed to treat Ebola. Last week, the drug was granted emergency authorization for use in the U.S., after data showed it shortened the recovery time of some hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
“We can focus on repurposing drugs that already have regulatory approval or are in the last stages of clinical trials,” said Davenport. “If they can now be shown to be effective in COVID-19, they could be brought to clinical use relatively quickly.”
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