While the CDC has stated that the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, or the coronavirus, in the United States is currently low, health officials are working toward developing a treatment option, educating Americans, and motivating individuals and businesses to initiate plans to prepare for a possible pandemic.
“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”
Since the first case was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, there have been more than 80,000 people infected with the virus and 2,700 killed worldwide with the number continuing to rise. While there are currently no vaccines or medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat the coronavirus, recent news reported that there are several clinical trials of potential treatments underway.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha is testing the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug remdesivir through a clinical trial. There are also clinical trials testing the same drug in China.
The adults participating in the US trial will receive 200 milligrams of remdesivir when they first enroll and another 100 milligrams while they are hospitalized for up to 10 days. There will also be a placebo group that will not receive the active ingredients in the drug to test its effectiveness.
In order to allow for emergency use of the drug, the FDA has issued authorization for another product that has not yet received official FDA approval to be used in response to the outbreak.
“At the request of treating physicians, and with the support of local regulatory agencies, who have weighed the risks and benefits of providing an experimental drug with no data in 2019-nCoV, Gilead has provided remdesivir for use in a small number of patients with 2019-nCoV for emergency treatment in the absence of any approved treatment options,” Merdad Parsey, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at Gilead Sciences said.
In addition to testing the drug remdesivir, which is made by Gilead Sciences, another study is underway to test the effectiveness of a combination HIV drug containing lopinavir and ritonavir.
At the Lehigh Center for Clinical Research, we understand the importance of clinical trials in understanding how mental conditions and disorders work, developing safe and effective treatments, and improving the health of individuals involved and those who will come after them. Clinical trials are crucial to advancing treatment and improving knowledge within the medical community so health outcomes can be improved.
But since there is not an approved treatment option for the coronavirus just yet, it’s even more important to be mindful about ways to reduce the risk of infection or spread. Be sure to frequently wash your hands, avoid touching the nose, mouth, or eyes, avoid contact with sick individuals, and stay home when you are sick yourself. If you experience any symptoms such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, seek medical attention right away.