From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Remdesivir
Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak
The Wuhan Institute of Virology at Wuhan, China has filed for a patent on Remdesivir, an antiviral experimental drug from the US which may help treat the novel coronavirus (nCoV-2019).
- It is an experimental drug and has not yet been licensed or approved anywhere globally. It has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective for any use.
- It is currently being developed for the treatment of Ebola virus infection.
- Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the recently emerged novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in vitro.
- Chloroquine is a “widely used” anti-malarial and autoimmune disease medicine that has recently come to light as a potential antiviral drug.
Can Remdesivir treat coronavirus?
- Significantly, Remdesivir has demonstrated in vivo (experimentation using a whole living organism) and in vitro (activity performed in a controlled environment) activity in animal models against viral pathogens that cause MERS and SARS.
- Even so, the use of the experimental drug has been allowed only as an emergency treatment, which can be administered in the absence of any other approved treatment options.
- These two diseases are also caused by coronaviruses structurally similar to the nCoV-2019.
- Additionally, limited clinical data is available from the emergency administration of Remdesivir in patients with Ebola.
- Even so, it is yet to be seen if Remdesivir and chloroquine can be effective against the novel coronavirus in humans.
How can the novel coronavirus infection be treated?
- As of now, there is no known treatment for the novel coronavirus, and an appropriate antiviral drug is required for this.
- Ideally, a vaccine against the infection can also prove to be effective, but such a development does not seem to be in the offing for at least three-four months.