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Remdesivir: an Antiviral to fight the Coronavirus

Tanvi Jain
Scientists all over the world are engaged in a race to find the ultimate cure to tackle the current pandemic. Governments have offered funds and rewards to those who are successful. One of the possible treatment methods includes antiviral drugs, especially Remdesivir.
Remdesivir has a long history of being involved in trials for hepatitis C, Ebola, SARS, MERS, and now a hopeful future for COVID-19. Its effect, however, on the other diseases has not proven to be optimal. The reason we are so optimistic now is that the coronavirus causing COVID-19 is similar to SARS and MERS.
Studies conducted in labs and animals suggest that this antiviral drug may help limit reproduction and spread of viruses in the body. The drug targets a critical part in the virus responsible for making enzymes (polymerase) needed for the virus to reproduce.
If they are proven effective for SARS and MERS, then they are likely to treat COVID-19 too.

The drug was also effective in treating animals with coronavirus. There have been successful human trials; however, standardized clinical trials are still under progress. Unfortunately, until now, the results have not been so successful (Chicago study involving 6,000 patients with severe symptoms).
It may sound like a miracle on a diagram, but there are various factors still to be considered. For instance, the development of the drug may require a whole year. Furthermore, there is always a risk of the drug not being successful during the trials and attaining FDA approval. Even if it does, the production of such a complex drug may prove difficult to meet the high scale demands.
Nevertheless, it is essential to root for the success of the antiviral drug during the crisis. It is important to realize during public health emergencies and an agency can waive standards. It may require only that an experimental drug’s potential benefits outweigh its risks.

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