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Vaccines, Medicines and Treatments for COVID 19: Rumors versus Reality

The scientists and doctors throughout the world are burning the midnight oil to discover a vaccine or credible treatment for the COVID 19 infected persons. Besides, the efforts are also being made to make it less contagious. Here we present you some of the important researches related to COVID 19. 

Siddheshwar  ShuklaSiddheshwar Shukla | Updated: 24-03-2020 15:35 IST | Created: 21-03-2020 14:48 IST
Vaccines, Medicines and Treatments for COVID 19: Rumors versus Reality
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

You may be receiving several messages on COVID 19 through social media. Some of them may be by your friends and relatives who are really concerned with your well being but some may be from rumour-mongers. However, you need to be very careful before implementing the advice on social media and recommending the same to others. This is because some of the messages may have adverse effects.

COVID 19 or 2019 Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) which is popularly known as Coronavirus these days, is one of the most contagious viruses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID 19 has spread in 177 countries, infected over 234,073 patients and caused the death of 9840 patients. The scientists in the World Health Organization (WHO) and also in different countries particularly in developed nations are working to find out a vaccine or cure for the disease. There are some breakthroughs as well but no scientifically proven vaccine or treatment.

Why so many medicines are being suggested?

The invention of any vaccine or drug (medicine) is a time-consuming process. It is first tried on some animals such as Guinea Pigs that are kept in the laboratories. After a successful trial on animals, the medicine or vaccine is administered on humans for the trail. There are well-defined protocols at the national and international levels through which medicine or vaccine will have to pass before commercialization.

The COVID 19 was reported in the last week of December in Wuhan city of China and identified on December 31. At the time of declaring it an epidemic on January 29, the WHO had estimated that it will take at least one year to develop a vaccine. However, the trail of the pre-existing medicines was continued from the day of the outbreak. The COVID 19 was subsequently declared a pandemic on March 12 after it spread in several countries across the continents.

As the Coronavirus reached in developed countries, the experiments are going on a war scale. The scientists are conducting maximum experiments and every breakthrough is being tested for the next level of scientific verification. However, there is no final conclusion to date.

How Doctors are treating COVID 19 patients?

The WHO has categorically said there is no specific drug/medicine for COVID 19. To date, all the treatments are based on increasing immunity and curing symptoms that are called symptomatic treatments. This is because the virus decreases the immune system of the body – the mechanism of the body to fight against external infection. It means if a patient is suffering from diabetes and is infected with COVID 19, s/he will be provided diabetes medicines and immunity boosters. The organs attacked will be provided medical support so that the body could survive longer and produce antibodies to kill the virus. Though the mortality rate of COVID 19 has been less than 3 per cent, the multiple infections or diseases make the case more fatal. The body, however, takes about two weeks to clean the virus. According to reports, lungs are attacked first followed by kidney and other parts. Therefore, the ventilators become important to support the breathing in patients.

If the patient is healthy, s/he recovers in about two weeks with simile treatments or sometimes without treatment. The low mortality and high contagiousness of the virus is another reason for more alternative medicines in the news. Because the doctors are not sure which medicine is really working effectively to treat the COVID 19 as all the supportive medicines are effective in recovering the patient. Identifying, a particular medicine or formulation is, therefore, a time-consuming process.

Take healthy food but there's no diet chart to cure COVID 19

All the healthy foods are good but there is no specific food or diet chart to prevent infection of or cure COVID 19. You can take seasonal vegetables, seasonal fruits and healthy food of your choice to remain healthy. The citrus fruits, garlic, and carrot all those make you healthy are good to consume.

IMPORTANT MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGHS UNDER PROGRESS

Scientists throughout the world are using combinations of various anti-viral drugs and vaccines to develop effective formulation or vaccine against COVID 19. There are at least 26 vaccines and 28 medicines under trial. Almost all of the medicines are combinations of pre-existing drugs used to treat various viral infections ranging from SARS Coronavirus to Ebola to HIV and others. In addition to the universities and institutions, the pharmaceutical companies are also engaged in the research.

Testing on Anti-HIV drugs

COVID 19 has similarity with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) for it reduces the immunity system of the body thereby making other infections to cause diseases for a longer durations. Therefore, there is much hope from Anti-HIV drugs to treat COVID 19 patients or minimize their impacts. Initial results have been very encouraging as some critical patients were cured. Several trials are being conducted throughout the world on Anti-HIV drugs. Two Anti-HIV drugs - Lopinavir/ritonavir in combination with ribavirin showed reduced fatality rate and milder disease course during an open clinical trial in patients in the 2003 SARS outbreak. These drugs are now being administered in several countries to reduce the mortality of COVID 19 patients.

  1. Researchers in Spain have begun clinical trial on HIV to reduce the viral load on the infected person to make COVID 19 less contagious. It means, if successful, the COVID 19 positive patients will not be able to pass infections to as many persons as they are doing today or may not be able to cause infections in others.
  2. Malaysia has also claimed to have cured COVID 19 patients by using combinations of Anti-HIV drugs.
  3. Israel approves Anti-HIV drugs for COVID 19 despite being at an experimental level.
  4. India is also using Anti HIV drugs to treat serious patients. After a foreign COVID 19 patient was cured in Jaipur, the combination is being used on three more patients in Mumbai. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has approved the administration of the Lopinavir and ritonavir combination on COVID 19 patients.

Favilavir and Neoscope in China

Favilavir is the first approved drug for COVID 19 treatment in China. The National Medical Products Administration of China has approved the use of the Favilavir, an anti-viral drug used in Japanese Flue, for treatment of coronavirus patients. Besides, Chinese media has also reported the discovery of a new drug – Neoscope. According to the claim it treats the COVID 19 infection in just four days which is yet to be verified. As COVID 19 cases in China are slowing down, the US media has also reported that China had discovered the drug but denying it to the US. In yet another allegation of concealing information by China, Time Magazine reported that the Chinese biotech company – BrightGene- was censored by disclosing 'inaccurate' information on Coronavirus drug trial.

Malaria Drug in the USA and the UK

After initial reports, the US President Donald Trump has ordered the US Foods and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct trials of the popular malarial drug Chloroquine treating COVID 19. However, Trump is facing criticism for announcing the availability of the drug without scientific confirmation. The doctors in the UK are also testing Chloroquine on COVID 19 patients.

Indo-US consortium starts animal trial of COVID 19 Vaccine

Serum Institute of India along with American Biotechnology firm Codagenix claimed to have developed vaccine for the coronavirus. According to the company, the trial is presently is being done on animals and the human trial will start in six months.

The Bottom Line

The scientists in the US have successfully isolated the virus. This will help in the study of the virus at the laboratory level without the requirement of the infected patient. A team of scientists from the University of Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital and Mc Master University in Waterloo has claimed to isolate the virus. Besides the USA, China, Thailand, Japan, and India have also claimed to have isolated the virus. Pune's National Institute of Virology is leading the research in India.

Addressing the media on March 19 at WHO Head Quarters in Geneva, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed satisfaction that in just 60 days the first vaccine trial has begun. He called it 'incredible achievement'. "This large, international study is designed to generate the robust data we need to show which treatments are the most effective", said DG. "We have called this study the SOLIDARITY trial". He also appreciated clinical trials in various countries.

However, till the discovery of the vaccine or drug for COVID 19, the countries have been directed to emphasize on preventive measures, isolation, social distancing, and symptomatic treatments. The responsibility of every human on the planet is to cooperate with doctors and practice social distancing so that the governments succeed in spreading the virus. Though the patients are recovered no country of the world has the facility to provide beds in the hospitals. The pressure on the health system of each country is huge and unprecedented.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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