Recent progress and challenges in drug development against COVID-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) - an update on the status

Tarek Mohamed Abd El-Aziz, James D Stockand
Infection, Genetics and Evolution 2020, 83: 104327
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses known to cause illnesses that vary between the common cold and more severe diseases to include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). A novel coronavirus was identified in December 2019 in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China. This virus represents a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. The virus is now known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the resulting disease is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic in March 2020. Despite rigorous global containment and quarantine efforts, the incidence of COVID-19 continues to rise, with more than 1,948,617 laboratory-confirmed cases and over 121,846 deaths worldwide. Currently, no specific medication is recommended to treat COVID-19 patients. However, governments and pharmaceutical companies are struggling to quickly find an effective drug to defeat the coronavirus. In the current review, we summarize the existing state of knowledge about COVID-19, available medications, and treatment options. Favilavir is an antiviral drug that is approved in Japan for common influenza treatment and is now approved to treat symptoms of COVID-19 in China. Moreover, Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, drugs used to treat malaria and arthritis, respectively, were recommended by the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China for treatment of COVID-19. Presently, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are under investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for COVID-19. The first COVID-19 vaccine is not expected to be ready for clinical trials before the end of the year.

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