HIV Drugs may Potentially Kill Coronavirus

While struggling to battle against the Chinese coronavirus, doctors tried a potent mixture of anti-retroviral and flu medicines that may be effective against the coronavirus that has killed hundreds of people.

But the scientific importance is still vague, and experts are saying a specific medication can take years to develop.

Why antiretrovirals?

Patients with the common flu are usually prescribed Tamiflu, a widely known antiviral drug.

Sylvie van der Werf at the Pasteur Institute told that common seasonal flu is different from the novel coronavirus

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 420 people and infected thousands of people worldwide.

On the basis of the 2004 study on the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) which showed encouraging responses, Chinese doctors decided to give anti-HIV drugs to the affected patients. Two weeks ago, doctors confirmed that they had been giving these drugs to patients in Beijing.

Doctors used ritonavir and lopinavir together which decreases the number of HIV cells in the blood, making the virus unable to reproduce and attack the immune system. They have also mixed the treatment with another anti-flu medicinal drug called oseltamivir, hoping this cocktail can be effective against the Chinese coronavirus.

Also read- CDC Issues New Recommendations for Studying Coronavirus Patients

In Thailand, where 25 confirmed cases are reported, 71-year-old fortunate Chinese patients gave a negative test within the 48 hours of this cocktail treatment. But doctors urged cautions and said this treatment needed to be given under strict supervision because of possible adverse effects.

Is it actually effective?

Experts aren’t still sure.

Experts in China told the 2004 study exhibited “substantial clinical benefits” in patients suffering from SARS, but the random trials conducted on 41 patients living with coronavirus had limitations.

In Singapore, where 24 cases are reported, doctors have followed suit for giving anti-retroviral treatment without knowing the details related to results, told by their chief health scientist Tan Chorh Chuan.

Other studies looked quite promising; a random clinical trial has been started in Wuhan.

Also read- Vaccine for Coronavirus is Only a Few Weeks Away

What are the efforts big Pharma making?

Biotech firms are currently working on a set of treatment options.

The American company, Gilead Sciences Inc. is working with the Chinese authorities for conducting clinical trials to check the effectiveness of a drug called redeliver, which was used for SARS treatment.

The development of new treatments is also in process.

The US Health and Human Services department is joining hands with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals for developing monoclonal antibodies to battle against the coronavirus. The company has previously used this class of drug to increase survival chances among Ebola patients.

Meanwhile, three groups around the globe which include China, France, and Australia have recently succeeded in cultivating novel coronavirus in the laboratory.

What should the general public do?

The best approach for them is to keep try and stay healthy so their immune system will strong enough that it can show a good response to the Chinese coronavirus threat, said by Singapore’s health minister Gan Kim Yong. He said risk chances become greater if the person’s immune system is weak or having impaired organs. Death risk is higher due to underlying health conditions.

But for patients that are already being infected, hospitals should provide support to avoid complications.


Amna Rana

Amna Rana, a writing enthusiast and a microbiologist. Her areas of interest are medical and health care. She writes about diseases, treatments, alternative therapies, lifestyles and the latest news. You can find her on Linkedin Amna Rana.

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