Quest for Covid-19 Cure: Treatments, Vaccines in the Works

As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise, so does the push by doctors and scientists to find effective treatments. There are now more than two dozen companies either developing or already testing vaccines, while treatments like the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine are being tested and, in many cases, used by doctors with positive results.

Another treatment that has shown promise is the drug remdesivir, previously used to treat SARS and Ebola. Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) is among dozens of institutions conducting a study on remdesivir to gauge its effectiveness in coronavirus patients. "At the present time, there are no therapies proven to be effective to help patients recover from the coronavirus, and this trial is trying to answer that question," says Dr. Robert Atmar, infectious disease specialist at BCM.

Dr. Atmar says these trials already underway show promise for possible short-term treatment of Covid-19. "It may be that we'll get answers to the treatment questions as early as in a month or two, if the drugs that are being evaluated are effective," he tells KTRH. "Larger studies to evaluate vaccine safety and whether they actually protect from infection or illness will be done, and there are plans to roll some of these studies out as early as this summer."

Despite the rapid advancement of research and testing on Covid-19 treatments, a public-ready vaccine is still a ways off. "It can take much longer to answer both safety questions and effectiveness questions, such that it could be a year, 18 months, or even longer before we have an effective vaccine," says Dr. Atmar.

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