Scientists, doctors, and researchers the world over are racing to develop effective treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. While their work is time-consuming and complex, the good news is that there are an abundance of promising developments on the horizon.
The COVID-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker
The Milken Institute – a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that focuses on issues from international finance and economics to global health – is tracking COVID-19-related research and development around the world. They have a compiled a list of over one hundred such projects that experts are working on as we speak. This includes vaccines, antibody treatments, antibody therapies, RNA-based treatments and more. View the full list HERE.
The Milken Institute has also launched the FasterCures initiative to understand how industry and government are accelerating medical treatment. The organization is drawing on the vast networks of its board members and advisory board to develop critical solutions to the outbreak, with a focus on three areas:
- Matching capital with promising science;
- Ramping-up manufacturing capacity;
- Ensuring regulators have sufficient resources.
Japan’s Endorsement of Favipiravir
Wired reports that Japan is fast-tracking a compound called Favipiravir (also known as Avigan). The anti-influenza drug, first developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, has been deployed in hospitals in Wuhan and Shenzhen, China, and shows promise in reducing the severity and duration of COVID-19 symptoms. Based on the results, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on March 28 that his government intends to designate Favipiravir as Japan’s standard treatment for Covid-19.
FDA Clinical Trials of Plasma Treatments
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated clinical trials of the use of blood collected from recovered individuals to treat active COVID-19 patients. The agency believes that convalescent plasma that contains antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) might be effective against the infection. Researchers and medical professionals can learn about the FDA-approved pathways for administering or studying the use of COVID-19 convalescent plasma HERE. Relatedly, a team of scientists at Tsinghua University in Beijing have isolated several antibodies that it says are “extremely effective” at blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells.
More Success with Hydroxychloroquine
The New York Times reports on a study in China indicating that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine does indeed appear to speed the recovery of a patients who have mild COVID-19 symptoms, and may prevent the disease from turning severe. The study at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University in China looked at 62 COVID-19 patients, half of whom received hydroxychloroquine and half of whom received oxygen, antiviral drugs, antibiotics and other typical treatments. Coughing and fever eased a day or so earlier in the patients who received hydroxychloroquine, and pneumonia improved in 25 of 31, as opposed to 17 of 31 in the controls.