Doctors in China Treated COVID-19 With Antivirals Not Approved in the U.S.

Doctors in China Treated COVID-19 With Antivirals Not Approved in the U.S.
(Chinatopix via AP)
Doctors in China Treated COVID-19 With Antivirals Not Approved in the U.S.
(Chinatopix via AP)
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The novel SARS‐CoV‐2 coronavirus has taken hold globally. Confirmed infections will soon number in the millions. People around the world are hunkering down for what could be a 'viral winter.'

Amidst this evolving pandemic, doctors from Wuhan in China's Hubei Province, where the virus initially arose, have authored peer-reviewed research detailing eleven case reports they believe broadly represent COVID-19 disease at large. The reports showcase the range and complexity of the illness caused by the coronavirus – from a complete absence of symptoms to life-threatening pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Here are three key takeaways from the research:

1. People with common allergies that cause, for example, rhinitis or dermatitis, don't seem to be worse-off. Nor are they more likely to be infected. That's good news for the more than 50 million Americans who experience different types of allergies. Note: this optimistic finding could be overturned with additional research.

2. Doctors in Wuhan have aggressively treated patients with antivirals not approved in the U.S. The drug they utilized most often was Arbidol, manufactured by the Russian company JSC Pharmstandard. One preliminary study showed that Arbidol could drastically improve chest CT scans and speed the body's clearing of the virus, perhaps by inhibiting viral replication. The antiviral drug Favipiravir, approved in Japan and China, could be more efficacious than Arbidol according to a sizable randomized clinical trial yet to be peer reviewed. While these early studies are promising, neither of these drugs should be regarded as effective until additional research is performed. Given COVID-19's swift expansion, there should be plenty of opportunities to explore their potential.

3. It may be possible for people to be long-term carriers of the virus. The doctors presented the case of a 44-year-old man who beat back a mild course of COVID-19 in early February, was discharged from the hospital, then was readmitted two weeks later with an asymptomatic infection. It's possible that he was re-infected, but it's more likely that the virus was never cleared from his body after his initial bout with COVID-19. The doctors did not reveal if he was still contagious, nor did they speculate on how long his infection might persist.

The coronavirus pandemic is still in its early stages and research is rapidly evolving as COVID-19 progresses. Keep in mind that findings will fluctuate as more research is released. Moreover, treatments that seem promising can easily fizzle out. Remain rational and heed scientific experts throughout this trying time.

Source: Xiang Dong Yi‐yuan Cao Xiao‐xia Lu Jin‐jin Zhang Hui Du You‐qin Yan Cezmi A. Akdis Ya‐dong Gao. Eleven Faces of Coronavirus Disease 2019. Allergy. 20 March 2020.

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