By Marsha Mullings, MPH
7.8 million cases, 214,776 deaths
734,491 cases, 45,924 total hospitalizations, 15,364 deaths
78,645 cases, 5,966 total hospitalizations, 1,467 deaths
- There were 18,032 new coronavirus cases in Florida last week.
- There was an average of 2,600 daily new cases over the last week.
Some Promising Coronavirus Therapeutics
As we approach 8 months since the declaration of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have witnessed an explosion of cases across the globe and within our nation. Less obvious but equally dramatic is the proliferation of therapies for the fight against COVID-19 disease. Many of these therapies are experimental and are a long way away from commercial use but a few are available for general use and some are undergoing clinical trials. Presented here are the most encouraging therapies.
Virus Blockers, Antivirals
- Remdesivir is an antiviral that is made by Gilead Sciences. It blocks the creation of new viruses by inserting itself into new viral genes, thus preventing the virus from making new copies of itself. The drug reduces the recovery time of people hospitalized with COVID-19 disease. Remdesivir is considered a promising drug and has been granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Favipiravir is another antiviral that interferes with a virus’s ability to copy its genetic material. This drug may help to purge coronavirus from the body. The evidence for this drug’s effectiveness is mixed but clinical trials continue.
Drugs That Mimic the Immune System
- Convalescent plasma is plasma that has been filtered from the blood of patients who have recently recovered from COVID-19 disease. This plasma is rich in antibodies which can fight against the virus. The effectiveness of convalescent plasma treatment has been mixed but clinical trials and testing continue.
- Monoclonal antibodies are specific antibodies, picked out from plasma, that provide a potent defense against COVID-19 cells. This makes monoclonal antibodies a more targeted therapy than convalescent plasma. Monoclonal antibodies produced by Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals have been shown to reduce the risk of getting hospitalized by 72%. Monoclonal antibodies are only available for limited use, under special circumstances. Clinical trials continue.
Drugs That Protect Against the Body’s Response
The most severe symptoms of COVID-19 are produced by the body’s overreaction to the virus. Known as a “cytokine storm,” this overaction causes a cascade of responses that may lead to multiple organ failure and finally, death. Corticosteroids are often used to reduce the reaction associated with the body’s immune response to allergies and other conditions. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid used to moderate the body’s immune response to certain agents. In the case of COVID-19, it has been shown to reduce death by one-third in patients on ventilators. Dexamethasone may not be helpful in the early stage of disease, where it may prevent the body mounting a strong immune response. It is more effective at later stages in the illness, when patients are on oxygen or a ventilator, where it may suppress the cytokine storm that can overwhelm the body.
The best weapon against COVID -19 is to avoid infection in the first place. Continued vigilance is critical:
- Avoid CLOSED spaces with poor ventilation
- Avoid CROWDED places with many people nearby
- Avoid CLOSE-CONTACT settings – such as close-range conversations
- Wear a mask when out in public.
For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, visit www.FloridaHealth.org; coronavirus.jhu.edu; NYT.com