COVID-19 Treatments: The drug combination that may help us beat Coronavirus

COVID-19 Treatments - Dr John Wright of Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI) describes some of the trials under way to find a cure for Covid-19, and suggests that a combination of three different types of drug may hold the key.
Covid-19-treatments

Introduction to COVID-19 Treatments at the Bradford Royal Infirmary

At the Bradford Royal Infirmary, hospital located in Bradford, England, it is currently participating in eight different clinical trials to try and find a COVID-19 Treatments and/or vaccines to attack the virus. They’re part of a huge international effort. As it feels like all the light of global science has been concentrated into a laser beam directed at this almost invisible virus.

The biggest of the trials this hospital is involved is in the Recovery trial. Already more than 10,000 patients have been recruited nationwide in the UK and are taking either a placebo or one of a number of other drugs.

AztraZeneca push to find COVID-19 Treatements 

Last week at BRI, they recruited the first patient in the UK for a small trial to test whether a new drug made by AstraZeneca is safe and effective. This is one of a number of small trials – jointly referred to as the Accord trial – designed to assess further drugs that may be added to the Recovery trial.

The hope is that this AstraZeneca drug, which does not yet have a name, will help to damp down a dangerous overreaction of the immune system that occurs in a small proportion of patients, sending the body into shock and closing down vital organs, such as the lungs, heart, blood vessels and kidney.

This overreaction has been referred to as a “cytokine storm” – cytokines being molecules that flag up the presence of an infection that the body must fight. The drug in the new trial blocks a cytokine called IL-33 (or interleukin-33).

Woman collecting blood samples for testing on different diseases

Patient experience in COVID-19 Treatments / Clinical Trial

A patient who volunteered to take the IL-blocker, arrived in hospital with symptoms that were at first thought to be caused by gallstones. It was only after he tested positive for Covid-19 that doctors at BRI realised this was the probable source of the problem. (Covid-19 is an illness with a wide variety of symptoms – but this is an unusual case!) The patient says volunteering comes naturally to him; while working as a volunteer photographer for the Great North Run, he met and became friends with Sir Mo Farah.

BRI physicians suspect that a vaccine for Covid-19 is still a year away, so these trials searching for treatments are critical.

The doctors here are looking ahead to a time – not too far off, they hope – when anyone with early symptoms will be able to drive to a testing centre, get swabbed, get a quick result and a prescription for a combination of effective drugs, before the worst of their symptoms take hold.

Combination of Drugs to attack the COVID-19 virus

This combination may include an antiviral drug, an immune- suppressing drug, and an anti-inflammatory drug.

Among antivirals being tested, one may help prevent the coronavirus attaching to the lining of the lungs, and another, Remdesivir, may help to stop it reproducing in the body. Remdesivir has just been approved for treating some NHS hospital patients.

Immune-suppressing drugs could help prevent the immune overreaction to the virus – the cytokine storm. If the IL-33 blocker from the Accord trial is effective, it would be a contender.

Anti-inflammatory drugs include steroids – for example Dexamethasone, one of the first drugs included in the Recovery trial ongoing at BRI. 

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