Coronavirus vaccine: Ebola drug remdesivir leads the race for antiviral medications
New Delhi, Mar 13: As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, a massive research and development effort is under way, with human trials planned because the Covid-19 has mutated into two strains that could actually hinder attempts to develop a vaccine.
According to Gilead Sciences Inc. drug remdesivir is emerging as a frontrunner in the race to develop COVID-19 antiviral drugs.
Gilead Sciences has said that it has been working with Chinese health authorities to see if remdesivir, an experimental drug that has been used to treat the Ebola virus, can combat coronavirus symptoms. The remdesivir drug was developed for Ebola and was used to treat the Scottish nurse Pauline Cafferkey who contracted the disease in 2014 while working in Sierra Leone as part of the medical aid effort.
Gilead is ahead of Drugmakers Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Sanofi SA in testing an antiviral treatment for COVID-19.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Regeneron and Sanofi have been working together to launch clinical drug, Kevzara, which was FDA-approved in 2017 to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The drugmakers beleive that it could help minimize damage to the lungs and respiratory system caused by the immune system's response to the new coronavirus. The drug wouldn't, however, treat the underlying virus.
Meanwhile, remdesivir, an experimental antiviral drug, developed by US biotech major Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD), appears to 'the most promising candidate' as a treatment for COVID-19.
However, Gilead Sciences is not the only drug firm hoping to find a successful treatment for the coronavirus, there are many pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that are also working on vaccines.
Doctors in the United States first used remdesivir drug in January on a patient who was not responding to other treatment and within 24 hours, he showed improvements, eventually making a full recovery.
Human Trials details
The National Institute pf Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health will be conducting the first clinical trial in the USA to evaluate an experimental treatment for coronavirus. NIAID has been working with biotech company Moderna to develop a vaccine using the strain of the coronavirus.
The first trial participant was an American who was repatriated after being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Yokohama, Japan and volunteered to participate in the study.
HIV antiviral drugs have also been flagged as potential options, and there are at least two studies ongoing in China looking at a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir.