COVID-19: An Update on Treatments and Initiatives

As time goes on during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all anxious to get back to normal, or at least a reasonable facsimile, in our day to day lives.  Information swirls about us daily from all sorts of sources.  Some can be trusted.  Others are just hearsay and rumors.  Topeka Health & Wellness wants to update you on the latest information we have been able to ascertain.

Let me say this in no uncertain terms.  SOCIAL MEDIA is not the place to get the best information.  We all want there to be a cure to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), or COVID-19.  But there is erroneous information floating all over the web.  I have found that it is always best to go straight to the source to find out the truth.  In preparing this article we have consulted the CDC, NIH, NIAID, KDHE, FDA and other local, state and federal sources to give you the most up-to-date information available.

READ: COVID-19: What You Should Know and What You Should Do

 

Currently there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs for COVID-19. However, there is an array of drugs approved for being studied for the treatment of COVID-19 in over 1,000 clinical trials around the globe. These trials can be accessed at ClinicalTrials.gov.  Although reports have appeared in the medical literature and the lay press claiming successful treatment of patients with COVID-19 with a variety of agents, definitive clinical trial data are needed to identify optimal treatments for this disease.

 

Therapeutic Options for COVID-19 Currently Under Investigation

Some news media outlets have reported on a variety of treatments that are under investigation for COVID-19 therapy but so far there is insufficient clinical data to recommend either for or against using these medications or treatments.  The most highly publicized of these are:

  • Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine
  • The combination of Hydroxychloroquine plus Azithromycin
  • Remdesivir
  • Lopinavir/Ritonavir or other HIV protease inhibitors
  • Convalescent Plasma or Hyperimmune Immunoglobulin
  • Interleukin-6 inhibitors or Interleukin-1 inhibitors
  • Interferons
  • Janus kinase inhibitors

There are other drugs being examined and therapies being studied but these are the ones that have been talked about the most.

 

New Initiatives and Strategies Announced

Urgent public health measures are needed to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.  Scientific research to improve our understanding of the virus and how it causes disease, and to develop strategies to mitigate illness and death, is of paramount importance. A new strategic plan from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, details the institute’s plan for accelerating research to diagnose, prevent and treat COVID-19.

The NIAID Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research has four key priorities:

  1. The first involves studies to characterize the virus and better understand how it causes infection and disease.
  2. The development of rapid, accurate diagnostics and assays to identify and isolate COVID-19 cases and track the spread of the virus.
  3. The third research priority is characterizing and testing potential treatments for COVID-19. These efforts will include identifying and evaluating drugs already approved for other conditions that could be repurposed to treat COVID-19 and testing novel broad-spectrum antivirals.
  4. To develop safe and effective vaccines to protect individuals from infection and prevent future outbreaks.

To achieve its four priorities, NIAID will build on its current resources, research programs, clinical trials networks and collaborations with other U.S. government agencies and other key U.S. and global partners. The new strategic plan aligns with priorities set by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and represents a comprehensive and coordinated effort to develop effective biomedical tools to combat COVID-19.

The National Institutes of Health also announced on Wednesday, April 29th a new initiative aimed at speeding innovation, development and commercialization of COVID-19 testing technologies. With a $1.5 billion investment from federal stimulus funding, the newly launched Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative will infuse funding into early innovative technologies to speed development of rapid and widely accessible COVID-19 testing. At the same time, NIH will seek opportunities to move more advanced diagnostic technologies swiftly through the development pipeline toward commercialization and broad availability. NIH will work closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to advance these goals.

“We need all innovators, from the basement to the boardroom, to come together to advance diagnostic technologies, no matter where they are in development,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Now is the time for that unmatched American ingenuity to bring the best and most innovative technologies forward to make testing for COVID-19 widely available.”

Adding to that statement, Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) said, “Americans are innovators and makers, we need American tech experts, innovators and entrepreneurs to step up to one of the toughest challenges we’ve faced as a country, to help get us safely back to public spaces.”

The best thing we can do as individuals is to continue to follow the safety guidelines.  We should keep washing our hands, social distancing, wearing face masks in public, self-quarantining when we show symptoms, and all the other common-sense measures that have already been publicized.  And, when restrictions are eased by the authorities we should not rush back into past behaviors. It would be prudent to ease back into daily life as we knew it.

However, don’t let worry rule your life. After all, less than one-tenth of one percent of the population of Shawnee County are confirmed to be affected by the virus

 

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES

–By Darcy Childs | Topeka Health & Wellness Magazine

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