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Is There a Cure for the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus?

By Brian Orelli, PhD - Mar 6, 2020 at 1:02PM

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Not yet, but multiple drugmakers are working on treatments and vaccines.

There have been over 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and more than 3,400 people have died from the disease, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease yet, but multiple drugmakers are working on treatments that might help fight off the coronavirus or prevent infections altogether.

Because it takes awhile to discover and develop new drugs, most treatments being tested against COVID-19 right now were designed to treat other viral infections. Pharmaceuticals hope they can be effectively repurposed to combat this one.

Gilead Sciences (GILD 0.63%) has started two clinical trials testing remdesivir, which had only limited success as an Ebola treatment, in patients with COVID-19. Both double-blind trials will test 5- and 10-day treatment regimens, but one will enroll patients with moderate cases, while the other will enroll those with severe manifestations.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.09%) has donated its drugs for HIV as potential treatments for the coronavirus. Since both viruses are RNA-based, the theory is that the protease inhibitors that block HIV viral replication might also block the replication of SARS-CoV-2. AbbVie's (ABBV -0.91%) HIV drug Kaletra has also been tested on patients with some reports of patients recovering. The treatments weren't part of a clinical trial, so there's no way of knowing if the drug helped the patients or if they would have recovered on their own.

People on the sidewalk wearing masks

Image source: Getty Images.

Takeda (TAK 0.85%) recently announced plans for what it dubs TAK-888, a plasma-derived therapy. Takeda will take blood from people who have recovered from COVID-19 -- and therefore have antibodies to the coronavirus -- and extract those antibodies to create a treatment for new patients.

Other companies are attempting to develop effective vaccines to protect against the coronavirus. Both Moderna (MRNA 2.58%) and Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO -0.48%) plan to start clinical trials of their vaccine candidates next month.

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Stocks Mentioned

Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$178.30 (0.09%) $0.16
Gilead Sciences, Inc. Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
GILD
$62.73 (0.63%) $0.39
AbbVie Inc. Stock Quote
AbbVie Inc.
ABBV
$152.53 (-0.91%) $-1.40
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
INO
$2.06 (-0.48%) $0.01
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$159.56 (2.58%) $4.02
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited Stock Quote
Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited
TAK
$14.28 (0.85%) $0.12

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