Coronavirus: Which (medicinal) agents help – and which don’t – Coronavirus Vienna

Effective therapies have been sought since the beginning of the pandemic.
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Therapies against Covid-19 have been worked on since the beginning of the corona pandemic. Numerous drugs have already been tested. Here is an overview of the results.

Corticoids work in severe cases, hydroxychloroquine or anti-AIDS drugs are ineffective: Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, pharmaceutical companies and researchers around the world have been working on therapies against Covid-19, but there is now greater clarity about some of them. The latest findings on the fight against the virus will also be the topic of the World Health Summit from Sunday, which this time will take place digitally. One thing is already clear: a miracle cure has not yet been found.

Coronavirus: WHAT WORKS

Dexamethasone (and corticoids)

The steroid dexamethasone shows promise in patients in need of oxygen – as the only drug that has been shown to reduce mortality – according to early studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency therefore endorse its use. According to the studies, however, it could possibly only work in the most severe cases.

Recent research suggests that other steroids may also lower mortality in hospitalized patients.

According to a study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” in May, the antivirus drug Remdesivir originally developed against Ebola shortens the length of hospital stays for corona patients from an average of 15 to 11 days. This contradicts a study published by the WHO last week on more than 11,000 patients from 30 countries. Accordingly, the agent appeared to have “little or no effect” on mortality or length of hospital stay. However, the data have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a specialist journal – and appear to contradict other US studies.

Coronavirus: WHAT DOESN’T WORK

Perhaps the most controversial drug in the pandemic is hydroxychloroquine, which is celebrated by its fans as a miracle drug and for a long time had its most prominent advocate in US President Donald Trump. Critics warn of serious side effects when treating corona patients with the anti-malarial agent. In June, the British recovery study came to the conclusion that the drug did nothing to reduce corona mortality – a result that was also confirmed by the WHO study last week.

The drug combination otherwise used to treat and prevent HIV / AIDS has proven ineffective in hospitalized Covid-19 patients. Again, it was the recovery study that led to these results on June 29th. Accordingly, the lopinavir-ritonavir combination, which is marketed under the name Kaletra, neither reduces the length of hospital stay nor the risk of being artificially ventilated. Nor does it decrease the death rate.


In the fight against viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the body develops antibodies – proteins that are directed against certain pathogens. These can be made synthetically in a laboratory and given to patients to boost their own immune response. Trump got this experimental treatment when he had to go to hospital with Covid-19.

Plasma from the blood of recovered patients showed promising effects early on when administered to Covid-19 patients – by drip or injection. According to some studies, the use of so-called convalescent plasma has already been shown to be effective in treating the Ebola virus or SARS, which belongs to the same family as the new coronavirus. However, according to the unanimous opinion of the experts, further comparative studies are necessary for a clear statement – as is currently the case with the recovery study.

The recovery study is also currently investigating the effectiveness of tocilizumab, an immunosuppressive agent that the researchers hope could prevent excessive and potentially fatal inflammation in severe cases.

In addition, further studies are ongoing to examine the suitability of drugs that are used for other diseases.