Coronavirus treatment: With vaccines months away, health experts doing hit and trial with existing drugs

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With the world reeling under the onslaught of the Coronavirus, the need of the vaccine is sorely felt. However, developing a vaccine may take a minimum of twelve to eighteen months, if experts are to be believed. World Health Organisation (WHO) chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan told IE that if everything goes well then the vaccine may successfully take shape in the next one and a half year. Moreover, she added that ample supply of the vaccine to all the parts of the world may take further long up to six more months.

Developing a vaccine entails various stages including the most crucial one to find the right drug or compoundn which could effectively beat the disease. Testing the drug on the animals, having similar anatomy and characteristics as humans, follows after which clinical trials are conducted on humans. Needless to say, considering the involvement of high risk to human lives, scientists take utmost and ruthless precautions before testing it on humans. Instances of failure of the drug at the culmination stage are many in the history of medical sciences.
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However, chances of finding the vaccine don’t appear bleak. A lot of research work across the world has been going on in the field of zoonotic viruses since the outbreak of SARS in China in 2003, Dr Anurag Agarwal, director of CSIR institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology told IE. He further said that there are high chances of the existing work getting modified according to the specific characteristics of Covid-19. Still, any positive result before at least 6 months is not possible, he added.

However, vaccine is not the only front, health experts are working, on to tackle the spread of the virus. Intense experiments with the existing drugs for diseases having similar symptoms are being tried in all parts of the world. India recently tried the combination of two HIV drugs to treat an Italian couple in Jaipur. The decision was taken after the condition of the couple in their late sixties worsened, forcing the doctors to resort to the HIV drug. After testing negative for the Coronavirus at the hospital, the Italian man died raising questions about the efficacy of the treatment.

Distancing his death from the suspected fallout of the HIV drugs, Joint Secretary in the Health ministry Lav Agarwal said that the man was a chain smoker and died of cardiac arrest when he was being treated for other ailments. He further said that the hospital had found his test negative twice after he was administered the drug before he died of the heart ailments, IE reported. The administration has also refused to count his death among the official death count due to the Coronavirus. Pertinently, the authorities are treating patients with different combination of drugs only after getting their informed consent and only in extreme cases. Consent of the Italian couple had also been taken by the authorities. A chinese research which conducted the trial of a similar HIV combination has reported a mortality rate of 22 per cent in patients administered with the drugs, IE reported.

WHO has also asked all the countries to come under the banner SOLIDARITY and join forces to find the right combination of drugs Argentina, Bahrain, Norway, France, Iran, Canada, South Africa, Thailand, Switzerland, and Spain. Different countries are testing different combinations of the drugs separately as well.