Technology Covid-19: the race for treatments is accelerating, some expected in the fall

Covid-19: the race for treatments is accelerating, some expected in the fall




A clinical trial of the Xav-19 treatment in preparation, at the Xenothera laboratory, in Nantes, on January 25, 2021. (LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

As research into treatments for Covid-19 accelerates, good news could fall as soon as this fall. Nearly 3,000 molecules are currently being tested around the world and the President of the Scientific Council himself mentioned possible arrivals on the market from mid-November. Several families of treatments are in preparation. The most promising belong to the family of antibodies. The principle is to inject antibodies directly into the patient, therefore defense molecules, which the organism has not succeeded or has not had time to produce on its own. The AstraZeneca, Xenothera and Roche laboratories are working on this.

France has already authorized since this summer one of these antibody-based treatments for immunocompromised and hospitalized people. But beware, these are drugs that are expensive and must be injected. However, there may soon be treatments in the form of tablets. But hope rests above all in this case on antiviral treatments, therefore molecules that prevent the virus from multiplying. For now, the results are more uncertain, but the Merck laboratory hopes to present phase 3 results in October. Pfizer is targeting the end of the year.

Laboratories also continue to seek treatments for Covid-19 among drugs that already exist for other diseases. They ruled out hydroxychloroquine, this drug against malaria, for lack of convincing results. But some corticosteroids have been shown to reduce the risk of severe form. They are now recommended by the WHO and used frequently in hospitals.

We could perhaps also rely on certain antidepressants or antibiotics. A clinical trial is underway on clofoctol at the Institut Pasteur in Lille. Obviously, these treatments don’t directly attack the virus, they weren’t designed to. But they could perhaps limit the severe forms. However, not with the same effectiveness as the vaccine, which reduces the risk of hospitalization by 95%. It must remain the preferred option because the first treatments will not target the general public, but first of all fragile people for whom the vaccination is not effective. We are therefore still a long way from the drug against Covid-19 that we could swallow like we swallow aspirin or paracetamol.

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