When will experimental coronavirus drugs will be ready for the clinic?

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Credit: Jason Raish

Is there hope that something will be available soon to help us fight this virus, known as SARS-CoV-2? Here’s a look at what’s on tap and how soon it could be ready.

Remdesivir

Timeline: First data could come in April

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Remdesivir, an antiviral medicine that failed as an Ebola treatment, was initially developed to work against a different coronavirus. There’s some evidence that it benefits Covid-19 patients.

Arthritis drugs

Timeline: Data could be available by summer; drugs available now

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Drugs against autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis work by tamping down the immune system. This could, ironically, be useful against in Covid-19, because the SARS-CoV-2 virus can make the body overreact, causing what’s called a “cytokine storm,” damaging the body.

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Vaccines

Timeline: Late 2021, possibly many years

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There is one approach that could deliver a vaccine faster than others: It uses messenger RNA to make cells produce proteins that could lead to immunity. This approach has never been used in a widely available vaccine. The biotech Moderna is in the lead here, but others, such as BioNTech, working with Pfizer, are working on a similar approach. It could take 18 months to be sure that approach works and is broadly safe.

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Infographic: Deaths from COVID-19 are far higher than reported estimates

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