Repurposing Existing Medications to Fight Coronavirus
As reported cases of coronavirus have risen dramatically over the last four months, doctors, scientists and researchers all over the world have been creating, developing or repurposing medications, or chemical compounds that will treat those infected with COVID-19. As of April 7, 2020, there have been more than 200 clinical trials reported at various stages testing different treatments, medications, or vaccines. Almost all of the various treatments and medication center around a different effect of coronavirus or the COVID-19 infection. These trials range from vaccines that will allow a person’s body to fight and prevent themselves from contracting the disease, medications purposed to prevent COVID-19 related pneumonia or other respiratory complications, to antiviral medications aimed to impede the virus’ genetic reproduction. One of the most prevalent forms of research and development to find a treatment, is to repurpose medications used for other illnesses that may have a positive or similar effect on a patient infected with COVID-19 The option to repurpose existing medications to treat COVID-19, are preferred by some researches as their basic effects in treating diseases are known, and doctors and researchers already generally aware of most of their side effects. Some examples of medications that are currently being repurposed to treat coronavirus chloroquine, Hydrochloroquine, Kaletra, Losartan that are used to treat diseases such as malaria, HIV, high blood pressure, or serve as an immunosuppressant. Likewise, because the basic information of the drugs and their molecular compositions are already known, doctors and researchers believe, if effective in treating COVID-19, they pose a head start on testing and clinical trials and could potentially be one of the first approved to treat the virus and its infection. From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the implementation of these repurposed drugs has produced encouraging results. Despite these encouraging results and resounding optimism and praise by the media and the medical community, it should be noted that these medications are not yet considered a cure or treatment for COVID-19. To date, the reported administration of these various treatments is minimal and concentrated to small cases of people and similar complications caused by the infection. Furthermore, although most of the side effects of these medications are understood generally through their previous studies and approval trials, it is important to note their effects on patient infected by COVID-19. Before these repurposed treatments may be approved to treat coronavirus, both the positive and negative effects of these medications must be observed in widespread trials consisting of patients ranging in sex, age, and severity of infection. Finally, one of the most important and unfortunately most complicated aspects of these treatments that must be identified, and studies is their respective long-term effects on a patient’s health. Similar to the understanding of short-term side effects, doctors and researchers believe there may be an advantage to repurposing currently used medications as they have all been proscribed and studied, doctors already understand their long-term effects. However, researchers have also documented, those results cannot predict a medications long-term effect when used to treat a patient infected with COVID-19. Before the medication may be considered a treatment, doctors must continue to monitor the health of those in clinical trials to know if the medication can fully cure a patient’s body of coronavirus, and will not have a substantial effect on their organs or immune system’s ability to fight future exposures to disease. As of April 9, 2020, there are currently nearly 1,500,000 reported cases of coronavirus worldwide, including nearly 433,000 in the United States.
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