Infographic: From vaccines to drugs, chasing ‘silver bullets’ targeting the fast-moving coronavirus

coronavirus drugs

For drug companies, there is suddenly only one priority: the coronavirus.

More than 140 experimental drug treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus are in development world-wide, most in early stages, including 11 already in clinical trials, according to Informa Pharma Intelligence.

Counting drugs approved for other diseases, there are 254 clinical trials testing treatments or vaccines for the virus, many spearheaded by universities and government research agencies, with hundreds more trials planned. Researchers have squeezed timelines that usually total months into weeks or even days.

It usually takes years to develop a new drug treatment or vaccine. After finding prospects, researchers must tweak them to maximize their disease-fighting potency and minimize the risk of unwanted side effects. The compounds must be tested in the lab, in animals and extensively in humans. If they succeed, more time is needed to manufacture large numbers of doses.

Related article:  Ethical pros and cons of infecting healthy volunteers in quest for COVID-19 vaccine

The urgent, high-speed search is moving on three fronts. One is to get a vaccine that could provide immunity, allowing a return to normalcy.

Scientists also are exploring whether existing drugs such as hydroxychloroquine for malaria or HIV treatments might work against the coronavirus

On the third front, researchers are hunting for entirely new drugs. Among these efforts, which take longer, are programs to mine the blood of recovered patients for infection-fighting soldiers known as antibodies that can be converted into drugs.

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