Covid-19 race for cure: Drugs on trial

Drug companies and research organisations seeking a Covid-19 cure are turning to old molecules that are either out of production or those on which development work stopped due to lack of commercial viability. On Friday, India said it will join the global solidarity drug trial launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which means its patients will participate in trials for more than 20 or so molecules that may offer a way forward, reports DIVYA RAJAGOPAL in this week’s update on the state of Covid-19 vaccine and drug development.




Netherlands, Australia: Dutch and Australian scientists will study whether one of the oldest vaccines in use has the potential to suppress the SARS-CoV2 virus. The University of Melbourne has said it will recruit 4,000 healthcare workers to study whether the vaccine can become a preventive measure for frontline healthcare workers dealing with Covid-19 patients



A molecule developed by US drug maker Gilead for Ebola has been shown to treat Covid-19 patients. The drug is in phase 3 clinical trials. On Thursday, the company said it had asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to withdraw the orphan drug status that had been given to it. This means the company will be letting go of incentives that the US government gives for such drugs. Indian companies such as Cipla and BDR Pharma have said that they will be working on generic copies of the drug.



Swiss drug maker Roche has said it is speeding up the development of this drug, which is already being used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The drug is in phase 3 trials to determine its effectiveness on Covid-19 patients. The company said this week that it is working “urgently to expand the manufacturing capacity of the drug” for trials.


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