Racing to a cure: Where we stand on treating coronavirus


FILE – In this Thursday, April 9, 2020 file photo, a chemist displays hydroxychloroquine tablets in New Delhi, India. Scientists in Brazil have stopped part of a study of the malaria drug touted as a possible coronavirus treatment after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of people given the higher of two doses being tested. Chloroquine and a similar drug, hydroxychloroquine, have been pushed by President Donald Trump after some early tests suggested the drugs might curb coronavirus entering cells. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

The World Health Organization said Monday that there are at least 70 potential vaccines for the coronavirus being developed. The top three candidates are still in the early stages of testing and it takes time and patience. Meanwhile, there are no approved treatments for COVID-19, but research is rapidly evolving.

Drugs under consideration include the experimental drug remdesivir, originally designed for Ebola, and hydroxychloroquine, approved to treat malaria.

Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health is testing the rheumatoid arthritis drug kevzara, made by Regeneron, to see if it can dampen severe inflammation caused by the virus; inflammation that ends up damaging the lungs.

Dr. Anar Yukhayev, an OB-GYN, was the trial’s first patient. “The only question that I had really, for the doctors were, ‘if you were in my place, would you do this?’ And without hesitation, both of them said yes,” Yukhayev told CBS News.

As part of the trial’s design, patients are randomly assigned either the drug or a placebo. That allows researchers to compare outcomes. “I’m just thankful to God that I’m actually sitting here right now,” Yukhayev said.

Genentech has launched a trial for actemra, another anti-inflammatory. “The nature of this crisis has really caused us to work with, in many cases, breakneck speed to get this clinical trial conceived and approved,” said Dr. Levi Garraway, Genentech’s chief medical officer.

Critically ill patients are getting a cocktail of experimental drugs in a desperate attempt to save them. These clinical studies are crucial to figuring out what actually works.

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