A year since the pandemic: What COVID-19 treatments work, don’t work and were big disappointments?

A year since the pandemic: What COVID-19 treatments work, don’t work and were big disappointments?
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A year since the pandemic: What COVID-19 treatments work, don’t work and were big disappointments?

A 12 months for the reason that pandemic: What COVID-19 therapies work, do not work and have been huge disappointments?

Like corticosteroids, anticoagulants are used solely in probably the most severely unwell sufferers the place the purpose is to forestall blood clots.

Practically a 12 months after mysterious pneumonia emerged in China and commenced its world unfold, there’s nonetheless no silver bullet therapy for COVID-19 regardless of an unprecedented effort to find new medicines or repurpose current medicine.

A single-family of low-cost, broadly accessible drugs — corticosteroids — has confirmed its effectiveness, however another medicine that have been initially hyped have upset.

What works?


That is the one therapy that has lowered mortality from COVID-19 , though it has solely been proven to work for sufferers who’re severely unwell in hospital and wish oxygen remedy.

The World Well being Group (WHO), in addition to the European Medicines Company (EMA) has been recommending dexamethasone for these sufferers since September, primarily based on the findings of a giant British scientific trial referred to as Restoration.

Dexamethasone can really inhibit the immune system, so it shouldn’t be given to these within the early stage of the illness.

However that is why it really works in those that are very unwell — it acts to tame a runaway immune response, which may set off the irritation characteristically seen in extreme types of illness.

And it seems that it is not simply dexamethasone.

Analysis revealed in early September within the American medical journal Jama confirmed that different medicine in the identical corticosteroid household is also efficient, lowering mortality by 21 p.c after 28 days for sufferers with extreme COVID-19 .

This led the WHO to advocate “systematic” use of corticosteroids in extreme and demanding sufferers.


Like corticosteroids, these medicine are used solely in probably the most severely unwell sufferers. The purpose is to forestall blood clots, one of many critical issues of COVID-19 .

What would not work nicely sufficient?


For a time this antiviral therapy had the hopes of the world using on it.

The drug, developed for Ebola, was initially regarded as very promising.

The European Fee introduced that it had ordered 500,000 doses in October, whereas the US granted it everlasting authorization to be used.

Its producer, US pharma big Gilead, has mentioned the drug boosted 2020 third quarter gross sales by virtually $900 million (756 million euros).

Nevertheless it has not lived as much as expectations.

On November 20, the WHO mentioned remdesivir shouldn’t be used to deal with COVID-19 sufferers regardless of how critical their sickness, saying it had “no essential impact” on survival possibilities.

That doesn’t imply it’s proved to be ineffective, however moderately that it had not been proven to enhance affected person outcomes.

There have been additionally issues about doable unwanted side effects, notably affecting the kidneys, in addition to the drug’s value.

The WHO recommendation was primarily based on 4 worldwide randomised scientific trials involving greater than 7,000 sufferers hospitalised with COVID-19 .

What doesn’t work in any respect?


This drug grew to become a lightning rod for politicised debates over the pandemic.

Used as a therapy for malaria or autoimmune ailments, relying on the nation, hydroxychloroquine was touted as one thing of a miracle remedy by its proponents — notably US President Donald Trump — regardless of a scarcity of proof that it labored.

Amongst scientists, controversial French professor Didier Raoult argued vociferously in favour of the drug.

Hydroxychloroquine was on the centre of an educational scandal, when the celebrated medical journal the Lancet needed to retract a research that instructed unfavorable results from the drug, after issues have been raised concerning the underlying knowledge.

The retraction of analysis crucial of hydroxychloroquine solely served to galvanise supporters of the drug.

However research after research has proven that it’s not efficient in opposition to COVID-19 together with the British trial Restoration, whose outcomes have been revealed within the New England Journal of Drugs in October.


Used in opposition to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, this one-two antiviral punch has proven to be ineffective at treating COVID-19 in hospital settings, in line with the Restoration trial, which revealed its leads to the Lancet in October.

Nonetheless beneath investigation


Scientists hope this immunosuppressant, presently used in opposition to rheumatoid arthritis, will have the ability to forestall doubtlessly lethal irritation in critical instances.

To this point, nonetheless, research haven’t but supplied a definitive reply.

Researchers from Imperial School London introduced on November 19 that tocilizumab gave the impression to be having a useful impact, in line with preliminary outcomes from their scientific trial.

The larger-scale Restoration trial could reveal extra within the coming weeks.

Artificial antibodies:

When the physique fights off viruses comparable to SARS-CoV-2 it develops antibodies — proteins which are programmed to focus on particular pathogens.

These anti-bodies may be synthesised in a lab and will in idea be given to sufferers sick with COVID-19 to spice up their very own pure immune response.

Trump obtained this nonetheless experimental therapy, manufactured by the American biotechnology firm Regeneron when he was hospitalised with the virus.

This therapy, and one of many identical sort manufactured by Eli Lilly, have obtained authorization for emergency use within the US.

However their effectiveness continues to be evaluated, with the Regeneron therapy included within the Restoration trial.


Plasma taken from the blood of recovered sufferers confirmed some early promise when given intravenously to folks sick with COVID-19 .

It has already proven to assist velocity restoration from Ebola in addition to SARS, which is attributable to the identical household of pathogens because the novel coronavirus .

Restoration has an ongoing scientific trial for plasma therapy.

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