Coronavirus Treatment News (March 19, 11am) — Drug protocols were the main topic of a press briefing held this morning by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The message conveyed: The US is looking for therapies and ways to treat Coronavirus, and it will be at least 12 months before a vaccine can be tested, approved, and put into use.
Possible Drug Treatments
Two drugs being discussed in today’s press briefing were Hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir. Though Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn said these are a source of hope, they are not yet readily available to the public. They have, however, been given the green light for use in large pragmatic clinical trials.
With the two drugs already in the pipeline for other uses, this makes them easier to gain approval should they be deemed proper protocols against COVID-19. Remdesivir has been used in China against coronavirus, but its efficacy has not yet been reported upon. Also underway is a clinical trial for a vaccine.
Hydroxychloroquine, produced by Regeneron and sold under the brand name Plaquenil, among others, is an antimalarial drug also used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In February, Regeneron announced a partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services to develop a treatment for the new coronavirus.
Remdsivir, produced by Gilead, has been used in the treatment of patients with Ebola virus. Hahn said Remdsivir is already in clinical trials in the US. Doctors treating coronavirus patients can request compassionate use of these drugs, which would be made available by prescription upon approval. Data being collected on the use of these drugs will “inform decisions about safety and efficacy” Hahn said.
“We may have the right drug, but it might not be in the appropriate dosage form right now, and it might do more harm than good,” Hahn said about the FDA taking a closer look at whether the expanded use of these drugs will benefit patients.
Hahn said 10,000 doctors are working around the clock at the FDA to look for solutions.
Researchers in the US have developed an experimental vaccine, and volunteers are already receiving their shots, this per the Associated Press (AP) Health and Science Department. The trial is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and runs out of Kaiser Permanente.
At the press conference, Hahn said this phase one vaccine trial that’s underway is anticipated to take 12 months for completion. You can learn more about the vaccine trial here.
Convalescent Plasma Treatment
The use of convalescent plasma was also discussed. This refers to people who have been exposed to COVID-19, the specific disease caused by the coronavirus. Through the method, blood would be collected from people who’ve had a positive response, but are now virus-free. A concentrated form could be given to patients with lower immune responses for potential benefit. This form of therapy would take three to six months to develop.
During the press briefing, it was stated that tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests are taking place every day. States are required by law to report all testing results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Deborah L. Birx, MD, the US Global AIDS Coordinator & US Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy says the backlogs of testing are beginning to be reduced. Birx said the number of positive tests is increasing to between 10% and 11%.
A teleconference between the nation’s governments is occurring today to discuss what further actions are being taken in terms of the current pandemic. Trump said a large focus is being placed on three states — Washington, New York, and California — and 10 counties where 50% of US COVID-19 cases exist.
DEVELOPING STORY: Parentology will update this article as more information becomes available.