Antiviral Therapies to Gain Importance as a Potential Treatment to Help Fight COVID-19 Disease
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, antiviral therapies are gaining much importance as they are considered as a promising treatment for combating the deadly COVID-19 disease. However, researchers say that yet more research and the evidence is required to prove the effectiveness of antiviral drugs against this disease.
The enigmatic outburst of COVID-19 pandemic in the Wuhan city of China has been spreading like a wildfire in many other countries, endangering thousands of lives since the past few months. The pandemic has catalyzed the invention of vaccines for new coronavirus disease all over the world.
The process of drug development is similar to a pipeline in which compounds move from early laboratory development phase to the testing of developed drugs on animals, improvements in drugs, and later clinical trials on people. Sometimes, it might take a decade or more for a new medicine to travel from its initial development phase to the marketplace.
With the rising number of cases of COVID-19 all across the globe, scientists are in a race to discover vaccines and drugs to slow down the spread of the pandemic and cure people that got infected with this disease. The biotechnological industry, pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), US are keenly working on the development of vaccines or drugs to combat this deadly disease. Treatments that are under research consist of drugs that have been used in the treatment of malaria & autoimmune diseases, antiviral drugs that were established for other infections, and antibodies from patients who have cured from COVID-19 infection.
Antiviral Drugs Seen as a Ray of Hope!
Antiviral medicines are at present in the limelight as they are known to combat or prevent viral infections. In the early days, these drugs were used in monotherapy, but today combinations of antivirals have been a common part of standard therapies. Several top scientists and researchers from different parts of the world are testing whether any of the previously developed drugs that were discovered to treat other viral diseases might also be effective against the COVID-19 disease.
Remdesivir is one of the antiviral drugs that has currently been under research; as it is considered as a potential cure for COVID-19. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is similar to the coronavirus that caused SARS and MERS diseases. As per evidences derived from laboratories and animal trials, remdesivir may help reduce the reproduction and spread of the virus in the body. Particularly, there is a weak point in every virus which can be targeted and attacked by drugs. In COVID-19 virus this weak point is a part that produces an important enzyme that is required by the virus for its reproduction. This part is almost similar in all the three coronaviruses; hence drugs such as remdesivir which can effectively attack the target point in the viruses that caused SARS and MERS can work against the COVID-19 virus as well.
A first, remdesivir was invented to cure several other critical viral infections such as the disease caused by the Ebola virus which was quite different from the coronavirus. This drug has the potential to inhibit the capability of the coronavirus to reproduce and thus, avoid its spread in the body. If the virus loses its capacity to reproduce, it cannot make copies that spread and infect other cells and parts of the body.
Remdesivir has the potential to suppress the capability of coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS. The drug was also found to be effective in curing these coronaviruses in animals; the results showed a drop in the count of viruses in the body and significant recovery in lung disease caused by the virus.
More Research and Strong Proof Still Needed!
Some of the Chinese scientists have discovered that patients admitted into healthcare centers or isolation wards with minor traces of COVID-19 Coronavirus recovered faster as compared to patients who were brutally affected with this deadly disease when a combination of antiviral drugs (including lopinavir, ribavirin, and ritonavir) was used in their treatment. From this, it was observed that the stage at which antiviral drugs are given to patients greatly matters. It the treatment is given in initial phases of the infection then this treatment can considerably reduce the spread and reproduction of COVID-19 virus in the body. Nevertheless, this exploration still requires proper backing and proof to prove the healing effects of this treatment.
The National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China and WHO has proposed the standard protocol for diagnosis & treatment of COVID-19 which states that an antiviral therapy using ribavirin, lopinavir, and ritonavir drugs can be possibly used for treating COVID-19 disease. A report by Research Dive has stated that the global antiviral drug market is predicted to witness outstanding growth in the coming years due to the increasing demand for antiviral therapies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presently, scientists at the University of Hong Kong are investigating whether a combination of antiviral drugs boosts the recovery process of patients affected with COVID-19 disease. As a final point, antiviral therapies are at present considered to be a lifesaving weapon to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
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