As the number of cases of the coronavirus continue to soar across the globe, 10,000 doctors and scientist are working diligently in the U.S. to find a treatment or even a cure for the disease.
The FDA is working to approve clinical trials for several drugs and therapies to combat the virus, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn announced during the White House briefing Thursday. His department has been working alongside the CDC since the first patient was diagnosed in the U.S. in January, he said. Many of those potential treatments are drugs that are “already approved for other indications.”
One drug used for malaria patients, Chloroquine, is already approved for patients suffering from malaria or arthritis. There’s hope that could work for coronavirus patients.
In order for that to go towards treating a new illness, experts will need to conduct “a large, pragmatic clinical trial” to test it’s abilities against the coronavirus, the Commissioner revealed.
Additionally, the FDA is working on convalescent plasma, which has been used to treat the ebola virus, as a potential therapeutic for coronavirus patients. That would mean taking patients who have recovered from the virus, extracting blood from them, and giving those samples to other patients, and, thus, providing them a natural “immune response” to fight the coronavirus.
These treatments will ‘build a bridge’ for other treatments that will start to arise in a period of three to six months, Dr. Hahn explained.
“This is a continuous process, there is no beginning and end to each of this. This is, you know, we’re pushing this through.” Hahn said, “The other great thing about the great innovators of America, some of them tell us it’s taken us years, years to develop therapies. They’re looking at pushing that to the months period of time.”
This week the U.S. also began the first round of tests of a coronavirus vaccine in Washington. That process will likely take 12 months before it can be available to the public.