Updates on Covid-19 drug development: Therapeutic drug alone isn’t enough

May 27, 2020 | 13 comments

The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta

We’ve talked a lot about the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir in very ill coronavirus patients. Now we know a bit more about the thinking of how it is suggested to be used, after researchers published the data that led the US government to recommend its use.

The data, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the drug shortened the course of illness from an average of 15 days to about 11 days.

The researchers said a 10-day course of the drug was better than the placebo used. But was not a cure and it did not act quickly.

They said the study showed “it is clear that treatment with an antiviral drug alone is not likely to be sufficient.” And they suggested the goal be for researchers to look at using a combination of therapeutics.

The drug hydroxychloroquine has been touted by the President, and in fact he says he took it, despite federal health officials saying it hasn’t been shown to work to treat or prevent coronavirus infection, and might be dangerous.

There are also serious concerns about the use of the drug in patients who have coronavirus, according to a large observational study published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Seriously ill Covid-19 patients who were given the drug were more likely to die or develop dangerous irregular heart rhythms, according to the study.

Because of the study’s results, the World Health Organization announced Monday that it is temporarily pausing studying hydroxychloroquine due to the safety concerns raised.

Having coronavirus without the symptoms

About a third of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. The agency also estimates that 40% of coronavirus transmission occurs before people feel sick.

Those numbers were disclosed in new guidance for mathematical modelers and public health officials. The data also includes scenarios that include mortality rates.

That data could change as more is learned about Covid-19, the CDC notes, and it says the numbers are meant only for planning purposes. The numbers are based on real data collected by the CDC before May.

The numbers are part of five planning scenarios that “are being used by mathematical modelers throughout the federal government,” according to the CDC.


A second peak instead of a wave?

Right now, we are “right in the middle of the first wave, globally,” and still in a phase where Covid-19 is actually on the way up, according to World Health Organization officials.

The health group on Monday warned of a second peak – not necessarily a second wave – of coronavirus cases.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, explained that his organization believes we are “right in the middle of the first wave, globally,” adding, “we’re still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up.”

This should be a warning to all countries, the group said, not to become complacent if numbers go down, especially when it comes to flu season.
Credit: CNN Health


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