Global Efforts To Combat Covid-19: Clinical Trials Staggering 99.9 % Failure Rate

Pharmaceutical companies have deep scientific knowledge gained from decades of experience with similar viruses. Companies are researching vaccine candidates and undertaking inventories of research portfolio libraries to identify additional potential treatments for R&D. the first formal clinical trial to test its efficacy, which was conducted in China on 237 patients, has failed. Not only did the drug fail to have any effect on Covid19 recovery, but the trial was also stopped early because patients were displaying adverse side-effects. Some have donated compounds with the potential to treat coronavirus for emergency use and clinical trials, including compounds formerly tested on other viral pathogens such as Ebola and HIV. As the world puts a joint effort in battling the novel coronavirus, scientists and medical researchers are also working round the clock to develop a vaccine to defeat the highly infectious disease. Typically, a traditional vaccine takes years to develop as it has to go through several levels of clinical trials and needs to be tested for side-effects in the long run. However, as the experts across the globe continue to work at breakneck speed, we already have more than 1600 potential vaccines for COVID-19.Other are exploring ways to use existing technologies that provide the ability to rapidly upscale production once a potential vaccine candidate is identified. Typically, only approximately one in ten experimental vaccines make it all the way through to regulatory approval. Therefore, the more companies taking different approaches to find a vaccine, the more “shots on goal” and significantly greater chances of success. Rolling out diagnostics to detect whether patients are genuinely infected with the new coronavirus is a key step in preventing or slowing its spread. However, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has drastically increased the demand for testing kits around the world, especially in the United States and Europe, and governments are trying to ramp up their testing capacities. It is important to note that developing a vaccine usually takes years as it goes through several clinical trials and even though the procedure is accelerated right now, it may still take at least a year or two to have an effective vaccine in the best-case scenario.

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Remdesivir, which previously failed in trials against Ebola, belongs to a class of drugs that act on the virus directly — as opposed to controlling the abnormal and often lethal autoimmune response it causes. Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication to be taken intravenously. Gilead Sciences initially produced the drug in 2009 to treat hepatitis C, but it has since been repurposed and studied as a treatment for the Ebola virus, and, more recently, Covid-19. It mimics one of the four building blocks of RNA and DNA and gets absorbed into the virus’s genome, which in turn stops the pathogen from replicating. The antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are also being widely used on COVID-19 on a so-called “compassionate basis” pending results from large trials, with early studies decidedly mixed. Other therapies that are being studied include collecting antibodies from COVID-19 survivors and injecting them in patients, or harvesting antibodies from genetically-engineered mice that were deliberately infected. It’s been well-established that Covid-19, at least in the United States, has disproportionately affected people of color. And yet clinical trials of treatments and vaccines for Covid-19 have so far failed to enroll diverse populations that actually reflect society. The seemingly endless cycle of new possible treatments, followed by media amplification, only to be countered by inconclusive scientific results, is leading to a dangerous level of confusion about what information is reliable.

According to Global Data, five ongoing clinical trials of Covid-19 drugs have failed to demonstrate positive results so far. The most notable example to date is hydroxychloroquine — an immunosuppressive drug, ordinarily used to treat malaria, that recently failed to meet endpoints and saw adverse events in a retrospective study. Patients treated with hydroxychloroquine also had a higher mortality rate in clinical trials in the US. Johnson & Johnson, one of the pharma firms that sells darunavir as a HIV treatment, said the drug has shown no evidence of being effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in testing thus far.

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