The 3 Most Promising Coronavirus Treatments, Explained

What to know about the clinical trials for remdesivir, chloroquine, and more

Dana G Smith
Elemental
Published in
6 min readMar 30, 2020

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Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

SScientists are scrambling to find a treatment for Covid-19. While there are no FDA-approved therapies yet, seven U.S. clinical trials listed on clinicaltrials.gov are currently recruiting patients infected with the novel coronavirus. Another 33 trials testing treatments for Covid-19 are ongoing, the majority of which are taking place in China. Perhaps most exciting, last week the WHO announced the launch of a multi-drug clinical trial that will enroll thousands of patients from dozens of countries.

The three most promising drugs or drug combinations so far, all of which are included in the WHO trial, are the anti-malaria pills chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, the antiviral drug remdesivir, and the HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir. Several of the trials also include antibiotics and immune system modifiers in combination with the antiviral drugs to try to boost the response. Here’s some information about each one.

Remdesivir

Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug that interferes with a virus’ ability to replicate. It was originally developed to treat Ebola but had only limited success. However, a study from 2017 showed that remdesivir…

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Dana G Smith
Elemental

Health and science writer • PhD in 🧠 • Words in Scientific American, STAT, The Atlantic, The Guardian • Award-winning Covid-19 coverage for Elemental