What Is The Best Medicine For COVID-19?
Scientists and pharmaceutical companies are racing to produce the most effective medicines and vaccines to fight the pandemic.
As the New Coronavirus (COVID-9) continues to infect and kill more people worldwide, scientists and pharmaceutical companies are busy producing the most effective medicines and vaccines to contain the virus that has now claimed more than 11,000 globally.
COVID-19 has symptoms similar to flu. Despite the diagnose saying that the most common symptoms are fever and shortness of breath, further lab test is necessary to make sure whether a patient is suffering from COVID-19, SARS (Severe Acure Respiraroty Syndrom), or influenza given their overlapping symptoms.
WHO’s clinical test on four drugs for COVID-19
The World Health Organization (WHO) is ready to test four drugs which were formerly used for other illnesses. They are a combination of ritonavir and lopinavir (used for HIV), the same combination plus interferon-beta, an antiviral called remdesivir, and chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine used for malaria, as Sciencemag reported.
The organization’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that 10 countries are participating in a trial program called ‘solidarity trial.’ They are France, Iran, Argentina, Canada, Bahrain, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, and Switzerland.
Experts warn the use of chloroquine
Chloroquine (Klorokuin) and Hydroxychloroquine are commonly known as drugs for malaria. U.S President Donald Trump said that klorokuin is a gift from God to contain the New Coronavirus, adding that there would be a follow-up of klorokuin and Hydroxychloroquine study following promising results in the preliminary studies in China and France.
“We’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately,” Trump said as Statnews quoted.
Indonesia has ordered three million of klorokuin pills aimed at providing the medication for COVID-19, stressing that such drug is not the main choice for COVID-19 patients.
However, many experts warned the use of malaria medication as they are not over-the-counter drugs. Patients taking klorokuin and hydrochloroquine must be under doctor’s supervision given the side effect of those drugs.
Klorokuin has several severe side effects if not prescribed properly, such as nausea, sight, heart, and hearing problems, said Dr. Nafrialdi, a pharmacology expert at University of Indonesia, as Kompas quoted. He added that klorkouin is also prescribed for those with rhematoid arthritis.
There has been no comprehensive clinical lab testing indicating how klorokuin reacts to real COVID-19 patients, despite ongoing trials in the U.S, Spain, the U.K, and China. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) confirmed that it has yet to approve the use of klorokuin for COVID-19 patients, adding that research is being carried out to discover whether such a drug is effective in curing COVID-19 patients.
“The FDA has been working closely with other government agencies and academic centers that are investigating the use of the drug chloroquine, which is already approved for treating malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, to determine whether it can be used to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to potentially reduce the duration of symptoms, as well as viral shedding, which can help prevent the spread of disease. Studies are underway to determine the efficacy in using chloroquine to treat COVID-19,” said FDA in a statement.
If taken in a high dose for years, klorokuin can cause a rare eye illness called retinopathy (the damage to the retina of eyes). Patients with other diseases must inform their doctor before taking klorokuin due to its reaction to other medications.
The klorokuin hype has triggered poisoning in Nigeria. At least two Nigerians were hospitalized for klorokuin poisoning. The country’s health authority has warned not to do self-medication with klorokuin to cure COVID-19.
The seek for the best medicine for COVID-19 has just begun
The urgent need for COVID-19 drugs has sparked lots of misinformation on social media. There is no evidence that a certain drug is more effective than the other one.
“So in truth, we don’t know. I mean, we have no idea because the disease is so new and because it’s gone to different geographies, you know, we are watching the lessons from China and Italy, and quickly trying to piece together all the observations to apply here and of course, people take different things in different parts of the world. So I would say there’s no evidence for that right now, no strong evidence,” Dr.Dawn Bowdish, a Canadian immunologist at McMaster University, said in an expert panel hosted by Newswise.
At the moment, specialists cannot recommend whether to use certain drugs or not for COVID-19 despite various information on COVID-19 medication circulating on social media and other literature.
“So we control blood pressure through angiotensin and some patients who have high blood pressure are placed on medications to suppress this effect and these are angiotensin inhibitors or ACE inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers, Aces and ARBs as they’re called in the medical communities, they’re very commonly prescribed and there was initially some concern that these medications may have an effect that would cause the virus to have a higher proclivity to cause disease in patients that caught the Coronavirus,” Dr.W.Graham Carlos, pulmonologist said in a Newswise expert panel when asked about the use of an angiotensin receptor blocker for COVID-19.
“That’s initial thought has been fading a little bit. In particular, we’re learning that people who are affected by the Coronavirus need to have good control of their blood pressure and their hearts need to be kept safe so that they can fight the disease. We don’t want to necessarily make recommendations right now, for or against the use of Aces and ARBs,” Dr.W.Graham Carlos continued.
“What we do want to do is get more data and more literature so that we can provide a consensus statement. So I’d encourage everybody on the call to do is keep your eyes out for a big consensus organization like the American College of Physicians, or American College of Cardiology when you see big groups like that make strong recommendations, that’s when you want to lean in. When you see one-off studies and blogs and opinions, that’s when you want to employ a healthy dose of skepticism.”