Corona Virus Covid-19 Treatment
Yesterday (3/19/20), Donald Trump held a press conference and promised new treatments for Corona Covid-19 virus that would be a "Game Changer" and would be fast-tracked through the FDA and ready for use "soon". Spoiler Alert for remainder of this post...There is no treatment.
It is true that researchers across the globe are studying both new and old drugs in hopes of a treatment for the patients that have severe disease. But it was incorrect and frankly dangerous to say we have a solution that will soon be implemented.
Today, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported on a study of the combination Lopinavir-Ritonavir (currently used for treating HIV) in treating Covid-19. The combo had shown some effectiveness in other corona virus', SARS and MERS
Unfortunately the results did not show any benefit for hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19 infection using this combination and 14% of study patients could not finish due to side effects. Further studies will need to be performed to see if it would work in combination with other treatments.
This shows why it is important to actually do clinical trials on patients, when we see that a drug works in-vitro. We must see how drugs perform on living organisms and in actual patients.
Chloroquin and Hydroxychloroquin are two more drugs that Donald Trump touted as being "very powerful game changers" and "approved almost immediately for treating Covid". This was incorrect.
So here is the deal with Chloroquin and Hydroxychloroquin. It was reported in 2005 that they could block the virus replication in primate cells grown in culture when tested against SARS. In February, 2020, researchers in China found it could block replication of Covid-19 in cultured human cells (in-vitro). There are currently promising results in treating human patients with Covid infection in China, South Korea, France and New York City. Because it is already an approved drug for malaria and auto-immune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, doctors can use it off-label to treat Covid or anything else they want. The FDA has a trial currently on-going to test it's effectiveness in treating Covid-19.
There is at least one trial in Minnesota testing if it can prevent infection in people with close contact to an infected person.
Since February there is a shortage of both drugs and this is a problem for patients who need it to treat Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Malaria. Both medicines can interact with other drugs and need to be dose adjusted when using.
The FDA will certainly fast-track anything that proves to be helpful in treating Covid-19. At the present time we have no proven treatment.