In 2020, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. This year, the Delta variant, twice as contagious as the previous variants, is believed to cause even more severe symptoms in those who are not vaccinated.
While the The COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective way to reduce your chances of experiencing unwanted symptoms of infectious disease, experts are now testing an antiviral treatment that could help stop the virus in its tracks soon after exposure.
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Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington is just one place that has recruited patients who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19 in clinical trials to help treat the infectious disease. As CNN Reports, clinical trials for oral antiviral therapy are currently underway taking place at international level.
The outlet followed two patients who participated in the trial, Miranda Kelly (44) and Joe Kelly (46) from Seattle. Miranda, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, had difficulty breathing, which led to her going to the emergency room. She later learned that she and her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. Petrified at the thought of leaving their five teenagers behind, they agreed to participate in the clinical trial.
They started taking four tablets, twice a day, the day after their diagnosis. They had not been told if they had been prescribed an antiviral drug or a placebo pill, but within a week, they reported that their symptoms improved. By the end of the second week, they had both made a full recovery.
“I don’t know if we received the treatment, but I feel like we did,” Miranda Kelly said as quoted by CNN. “To have all of these underlying conditions, I felt like the recovery was really quick.”
Experts believe this short-term regimen of daily pills may be able to prevent symptoms from developing soon after a diagnosis of COVID-19.
“Oral antivirals have the potential not only to reduce the duration of COVID-19 syndrome, but also have the potential to limit transmission to people in your household if you are sick,” Timothy Sheahan, virologist at the University of Carolina North Chapel Hill, who was instrumental in the development of these therapies, said CNN.
Currently, there are three antivirals that look “promising” in the fight against COVID-19 in its infancy, according to Carl Dieffenbach, director of the AIDS Division at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The best medicine at the moment is molnupiravir of Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. Next comes the antiviral from Pfizer, PF-07321332and AT-527 from Roche and Atea Pharmaceuticals.
How exactly do these antiviral drugs work? Essentially, they hamper the ability of the virus to replicate in human cells. Currently, only one antiviral drug, known as remdesivir, has been approved to treat COVID-19. However, it is not an oral medication, nor is it intended for widespread use. It is given to patients who have been hospitalized due to COVID-19.
More trials are slated to take place later this year, however, one challenge that could slow down testing is failure to recruit enough people for clinical trials. Still, global healthcare company Merck & Co. remains optimistic, having predicted in June that it could make 10 million treatments available by the end of the year, given that clinical trials consider molnupiravir to be an effective drug.
Until then, it’s never a bad idea to stock up on these popular foods that boost your immune system, says the dietitian. So, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.