Less than a year ago, when the vaccine against Covid 1st started rolling, people hoped that the pandemic would end. As people head into another winter, things are much more uncertain. In the past few months, researchers have made advances in finding out how to treat Covid once a person gets affected by it.
Drugs are easy to store and ship and can be easily distributed worldwide. It is necessary to understand why the development of anti-Covid pills is a big deal. Since the Covid has started spreading, people have learned a lot about caring for sick patients enough to require hospital care. A widely available drug such as dexamethasone has substantially reduced the hospital mortality rate.
For people who haven’t been hospitalized, there are very few options available. The one that is available widely in the US and authorized is monoclonal antibodies. This worked quite well and was given either as a series of four shots or as a single IV infusion in the medical setting. The treatment is free to US Patients, but it costs the US government $2100 per dose.
When the virus surges in an area, the hospital gets filled, meaning that people who need treatment might not get it. People with mild to moderate cases are asked to stay at home where they have very few options. The lack of suitable early treatments for Covid has increased the demand for drugs that don’t help much. There has been progressed on Covid treatments, and these are said to be highly effective and can be taken at home also.
One pill that’s been effective against the disease wasn’t even made to fight Covid. Since the 1990s, Fluvoxamine has been a cheap, generic antidepressant that’s been around. It seems to reduce hospitalizations and deaths Covid by up to 30%. The body’s inflammatory response is modulated by the drug, and it also reduces lung damage as the immune system fights off the Covid. Despite encouraging trial results and an excellent safety profile, the drug isn’t widely prescribed or recommended for Covid patients as an off-level treatment doctor can make the call to define Fluvoxamine.
An even more promising pill is Merck’s molnupiravir, but it is not FDI approved. As an influenza treatment, Merck began developing the antiviral. It is taken twice a day for five days as a batch of up to four pills. It reduced Covid hospitalization and death by about half. Once this drug is approved, the US government plans to purchase 1.7 million drug courses for about $700 apiece.
Pfizer’s Paxlovid is not widely available, but recent research indicates that it can also be effective. It is an antiviral that blocks a specific enzyme the virus needs to reproduce itself. It reduces the risk of hospitalization and death by 89% for adults at risk of severe Covid.
There are many other early Covid treatments under development and in testing, too. For Covid, the FDA database of clinical trials has listed 100 studies on potential treatments. These include repurposed medications, newly developed medicines, and combination protocols of other promising drugs.