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COVID-19 Treatments: What Works, What Doesn’t, and What’s in Proof

The vaccination campaign of several billion people in a year has overshadowed the research of other treatments against the COVID-19, which progress much more slowly, but bring new hope.

What works

It was the first treatment officially recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) in September 2020, although

Based on available clinical trial data, WHO recommends “The systematic administration of corticosteroids” to patients suffering from COVID-19.

This is able to reduce mortality, combat the inflammation detected in the most serious cases and the risk of needing artificial respiration, according to the WHO.

These drugs are synthetic antibodies, called “monoclonal”, which are part of a family known as The WHO recommends their use for the most severe cases since July 2021.

This organization advises that these sick “Receive both corticosteroids and anti IL-6.”

Originally developed to combat rheumatoid polyarthritis, an inflammatory disease, tocilizumab (sold by Roche under the names Actemra or RoActemra) and sarilumab (marketed by Sanofi as Kevzara) are

Like corticosteroids, these drugs quell the reaction of the immune system, which is behind the most serious forms of COVID-19.

Regeneron is one of the laboratories that investigates the use of monoclonal antibodies.  (Reuters).

The WHO opened the door on Friday to this combination of two monoclonal antibodies (casirivimab and imdevimab) but only for two types of patients:

First, “Those who present less severe forms of the coronavirus but have , elderly people, with low immune systems (due to cancer or after a transplant, for example).

Second, to patients “With a severe or critical form that does not have antibodies” of the virus after an infection or with vaccines. How could immunosuppressed patients be,

This treatment developed by the biotechnology company Regeneron, associated with the Roche laboratory, has a very high price per dose (2,000 dollars, according to the NGOs), something that the WHO hopes to be able to lower.

What is in evidence

  • Oral antivirals
Pfizer company headquarters in Belgium.  (Photo: JONAS ROOSENS / BELGA / AFP)

Several labs are working on the trail of orally administered antivirals.

One of the most advanced is the one, developed by an alliance of the MSD laboratory and the biotechnological society Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Clinical trials are underway in patients (both hospitalized and not) and in people who have been in contact with COVID-19 patients. The results could be known by the end of the year.

Atea Pharmaceutical, a biotech company, and the Roche laboratory are studying the efficacy of a comparable treatment,

Pfizer, for its part, is developing a drug combining two molecules, including ritonavir, which is already used against HIV.

These treatments “Easy to take and effective in early forms of COVID-19”, it has a market recently noted infectologist Karine Lacombe.

However, this scientist warns against “Shocking announcements” industry, as these drugs have generally not produced convincing results against coronavirus.

  • New generation antibodies
The picture shows GSK's vaccine production facility in the UK.  (Photo: Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Other labs are working on long-lasting monoclonal antibodies.

The European Commission rated one of them, the one developed by GSK, as one of the five most promising treatments.

Another, the, is an antibody cocktail designed by AstraZeneca, the provisional results of which were released in late August. The laboratory assures that it can be effective against the disease in frail patients.

Finally, the French company Xenothera is working on another type of synthetic antibodies, called Its product, XAV-19, with antibodies of porcine origin, is in the final phase of clinical trials.

What doesn’t work

A health worker shows a box containing a bottle of Ivermectin in Cali, Colombia, on July 21, 2020 (LUIS ROBAYO / AFP).

Since the beginning of the pandemic, various treatments have proven useless.

La, el (which looked very promising at first), la, and the association between (brand name, Kaletra), which is used against HIV.

These drugs are all “repositioned”, that is, at first they were intended for another use but trials were carried out to fight the covid. Although the WHO was progressively advising against its use against this disease.

As all of them have failed, except the anti-IL-6, “We are entering a stage of specific drugs against SARS-CoV-2”, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Karine Lacombe.

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