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  • China Says It Has Approved a Drug To Fight COVID-19 Outbreak

    As of February 17, over 70,000 people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19.
    by Kate Borbon .
China Says It Has Approved a Drug To Fight COVID-19 Outbreak
PHOTO BY iStock
  • To combat the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, scientists are looking for ways to treat the virus or protect people from getting infected with it, and China says it may have found one. 

    China Daily reports the Taizhou government in Zhejiang province of China has approved the antiviral drug Favilavir after it was found efficient in treating COVID-19. It is the first anti-novel coronavirus drug to be approved for marketing by the National Medical Products Administration, the Chinese agency for regulating drug and medical devices, since the outbreak.

    The government stated on its WeChat account that the drug “is expected to play an important role in preventing and treating the epidemic,” writes China Daily.

    United Press International (UPI) reports Favilavir is one of the three drugs currently being tested for use against COVID-19. It has been used in 70 patients confirmed to be infected with the virus, and results suggest it is a significantly effective method of treatment.

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    Another drug being investigated as a possible treatment for COVID-19 is Remdesivir, which was developed by the American pharmaceutical company Gilead. Meant to be administered intravenously, Remdesivir had previously been tested on patients with Ebola virus. Though the drug appeared to be safe, it did not work well against Ebola.

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    Doctors in China have started enrolling patients in a clinical trial of Remdesivir, The New York Times reports. Doctors in Washington state, U.S. also gave the drug to the first COVID-19 case in the U.S. when he developed pneumonia and his condition worsened after being hospitalized for a week. The next day, his symptoms improved.

    Though it is still yet to be determined whether or not Remdesivir can be used on COVID-19 patients, research has been suggesting it can work. One report published by Chinese scientists claimed that Remdesivir was found to block the novel coronavirus from infecting cells grown in a lab.

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    In an email to The New York Times, Ryan McKeel, spokesperson for Gilead, said, “It is important to keep in mind that this is an experimental medicine that has only been used in a small number of patients with 2019-nCoV to date, so we do not have an appropriately robust understanding of the effect of this drug to warrant broad use at this time.”

    McKeel added that there will be two clinical trials happening in Wuhan, the origin of the outbreak, to test Remdesivir. One trial will involve patients who are severely ill while the other will involve patients who are hospitalized but not as ill.

    Another treatment method against COVID-19 that is currently being tested in plasma therapy. GMA News reports that according to a statement from a Chinese professor, this procedure uses infusions of blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat those who are still battling it. This professor added that plasma therapy has been showing promising preliminary results.

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    According to Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Program, convalescent plasma is an “effective and life-saving” method to treat infectious diseases including rabies and diphtheria.

    “It is a very important area to pursue. Because what hyperimmune globulin does is it concentrates the antibodies in a recovered patient,” Dr. Ryan explained to reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.

    “You are essentially giving the new victim's immune system a boost of antibodies to hopefully get them through the very difficult phase. So it must be given at the right time because it mops up the virus in the system, and it just gives the new patient's immune system a vital push at the time it needs it. But it has to be carefully timed and it's not always successful.”

    Dr. Ryan continued that plasma therapy is a “very valid way to explore therapeutics, especially when we don’t have vaccines and we don’t have specific antivirals.”

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    Researchers are still developing a vaccine against COVID-19. The Conversation reports that groups from various parts of the world, like the U.S., Europe, and Australia, are working on a vaccine against the virus. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the WHO, says the vaccine could be available in 18 months, Reuters reports.

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