Written by Shawn Radcliffe on March 26, 2020 for Healthline.com
- Scientists around the world are working on potential treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.
- Several companies are working on antiviral drugs, some of which are already in use against other illnesses, to treat people who already have COVID-19.
- Other companies are working on vaccines that could be used as a preventative measure against the disease.
- It will probably take months, if not more than a year, for a drug or vaccine to complete clinical trials and be available to the public.
With COVID-19 cases worldwide passing the 200,000 mark and continuing to grow, scientists are pushing forward with efforts to develop vaccines and treatments to slow the pandemic and lessen its damage.
Some of the earliest treatments will likely be drugs that are already approved for other conditions or have been tested on other viruses.
“People are looking into whether existing antivirals might work or whether new drugs could be developed to try to tackle the virus,” said Dr. Bruce Y. Lee, a professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.
The antiviral drugs were a topic of a March 18 White House briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak.
President Trump said he is pushing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to eliminate barriers to get treatments to people with coronavirus.
The president went as far as to say the anti-malaria drug chloroquine would be available soon.
However, FDA officials said it could still be a year before any drugs are made available for coronavirus treatment because the agency needs to make sure the medications are safe for this particular use and what the proper dosage should be.
Indeed, there’s only so much that vaccine and drug development can be sped up, even with improvements in genetic sequencing and other technologies.
“Even though technological advances allow us to do certain things more quickly,” Lee told Healthline, “we still have to rely on social distancing, contact tracing, self-isolation, and other measures.”