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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic situation. Millions are infected with this virus and thousands of people have already died. While the death toll has already risen to 14%, scientists are desperately trying to find a cure.
The name which is probably appropriate for this new strain of coronavirus is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). This new strain of Coronavirus is popularly known as CoViD 19, as Co stands for Corona, Vi for Virus, D stands for Disease and 19 for 2019. Scientists across the globe are trying to find a drug to cure the coronavirus patients and a vaccine to stop the CoVid 19 outbreak.
And we can finally say, medical science has come up with some drugs that can probably cure the patients and also can prevent the spreading of the virus.
Drugs that Can Be Effective for the Treatment of Coronavirus
Coronavirus has already caused three major outbreaks in human civilization. In 2002 SARS infection, thousands of people died worldwide and in MERS 2012 infection, more than 800 people died. But the new strain of coronavirus, CoViD-19 has broken all the previous records. More than 16000 people have already died due to this virus and the numbers are still increasing.
Though there are no specific treatments found to cure these virus-infected people, WHO have announced a large global trial to find whether any drug we know can treat this new virus or not.
Medical science has found 4 most promising drugs that can probably help in coronavirus treatments.
Remdesivir inhibits an important vital enzyme RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. and stops the replication of the viral genome. This drug was tested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to treat Ebola last year. Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that Remdesivir can inhibit SARS and Mers coronavirus.
According to a case report in NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine), a CoViD-19 patient in the United States was given Remdesivir and he recovered. Another critical CoViD-19 patient in California was treated with Remdesivir and has improved as well.
However. This intravenous drug is a little expensive and it should be used in clinics only.
2. Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine
USA President Donald Trump has mentioned “Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine” as a game-changer at a press conference. ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) also recommended Hydroxychloroquine to prevent the spreading of CoVid-19 for the Indian populations at high-risk.
Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine are used to treat acute attacks of malaria. This medicine is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and erythematosus. These two drugs are also used in combination against Dengue and Chikungunya, two other critical diseases.
This drug decreases the acidity in endosomes and the inside cell compartments. But this procedure does not work in CoViD-19 in this way. The protein in this drug attaches to a receptor on the human cell surface. Studies have found that this drug has some significant activities in SARS-CoV-2. But the drug is needed in the proper dose, a high amount can cause toxicities. It also has some varieties of toxicities and can harm the heart in rare cases.
The healthcare workers who are involved in the care of the coronavirus patients should be treated with this age-old malaria drug. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved this treatment.
But children under 15 years of age are not recommended to be treated with these drugs. According to the medical authorities in India, this drug has to be given to people on the basis of a prescription from a registered medical practitioner only.
3. Ritonavir and Lopinavir
The combination of Ritonavir and Lopinavir was generally used to treat HIV infection in the United States from 2000. Lopinavir inhibits the protease enzyme in HIV. The protease enzyme usually cleaves a long protein chain into small peptides during the time of new virus assembly.
As our own body can break down the lopinavir, it is combined with a low-level Ritonavir, that acts as a protease inhibitor. This combination has shown effects in MERS patients but the result of this trial is thin.
Overuse of this combined drug can cause significant liver damage.
In another method, interferon-beta is also combined with Ritonavir and Lopinavir. Interferon-beta has shown a significant effect on the marmoset monkeys infected with MERS.
Though the combination of these three drugs might be risky for CoViD-19 patients as it can cause significant tissue damage.
The government health officials of the USA have announced that they have come up with a vaccine for the CoViD-19. Though this vaccine is still in the initial experimental stage, they have given this vaccine to 45 healthy individuals as a trial.
All healthcare professionals that are treated with these drugs should not have a sense of false security in them. They should follow all precautionary measures like washing of hands, wearing protective masks-gloves, keeping a safe distance and others.
Almost all countries are going through a lockdown state to prevent the spreading of CoViD-19. And for the general people, the main key to stopping the spreading of the virus is to keep social distancing from each other and wash hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Do not panic, we will surely win this battle against this deadly virus.