Share on Pinterest
Scientists around the world are working on a number of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei via Getty Images
  • Scientists around the world are working on potential treatments and vaccines for the new coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.
  • Several companies are working on antiviral drugs, some of which are already in use against other illnesses, to treat people who already have COVID-19.
  • Other companies are working on vaccines that could be used as a preventive measure against the disease.

With confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide surpassing and continuing to grow, scientists are pushing forward with efforts to develop vaccines and treatments to slow the pandemic and lessen the disease’s damage.

Some of the earliest treatments will likely be drugs that are already approved for other conditions, or have been tested on other viruses.

“People are looking into whether existing antivirals might work or whether new drugs could be developed to try to tackle the virus,” said , a professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

As of May 8, had received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): the antiviral remdesivir and a drug used to sedate people on a ventilator.

The FDA issued an EUA in March for the antimalaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, but 体育投注网址 after studies showed that they’re unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19.

An EUA allows doctors to use these drugs to treat people with COVID-19 even before the medications have gone through the formal FDA approval process.

体育投注网址These drugs are still being tested in clinical trials to see whether they’re effective against COVID-19. This step is needed to make sure the medications are safe for this particular use and what the proper dosage should be.

体育投注网址It could be months before treatments are available that are known to work against COVID-19. It could be even longer for a vaccine.

But there are still other tools we can use to reduce the damage done by the new coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2.

“Even though technological advances allow us to do certain things more quickly,” Lee told Healthline, “we still have to rely on social distancing, contact tracing, self-isolation, and other measures.”

for a new compound to go from initial discovery to the marketplace. Many compounds never even make it that far.

That’s why many medications being eyed as potential treatments for COVID-19 are .

体育投注网址In a in the British Journal of Pharmacology, scientists from the United Kingdom called for wider screening of existing drugs to see if they might work against the new coronavirus.

体育投注网址They identified three stages of infection at which the virus could be targeted: keeping the virus from entering our cells, preventing it from replicating inside the cells, and minimizing the damage that the virus does to the organs.

Many of the drugs being developed or tested for COVID-19 are antivirals. These would target the virus in people who already have an infection.

Lee says antivirals work better if you administer them sooner, “before the virus has a chance to multiply significantly.” And also before the virus has caused significant damage to the body, such as to the lungs or other tissues.

, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College and a former chief medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), says both antivirals and vaccines will be valuable tools in combating COVID-19.

体育投注网址However, he told Healthline that “antivirals are likely to be developed and approved before a vaccine, which typically takes longer.”

ago, this drug failed in clinical trials against Ebola in 2014. But it was found to be generally safe in people. with MERS, a disease caused by a different coronavirus, showed that the drug blocked the virus from replicating.

The drug is being tested in many around the world. This includes studies in which remdesivir is being administered alongside other drugs, such as the anti-inflammatory drug .

The drug is also being with moderate to severe COVID-19.

体育投注网址In late April, the drug’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, one of its trials had been “terminated” due to low enrollment. Gilead officials said the results of that trial had been “inconclusive” when it was ended.

A few days later, the company that preliminary data from another trial of remdesivir overseen by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) had “met its primary endpoint.”

体育投注网址, the institute’s director, the trial produced a “clear cut positive effect in diminishing time to recover.” He said people taking the drug recovered from COVID-19 in 11 days compared with 15 days for people who didn’t take remdesivir.

More details will be released after the trial is peer reviewed and published.

体育投注网址Gary Schwitzer, founder of, though, said the researchers 2 weeks before Fauci’s announcement.

体育投注网址Schwitzer compared that to moving football goalposts closer to make it easier to get a touchdown.

At the same time, 体育投注网址 published in The Lancet reported that participants in a clinical trial who took remdesivir showed no benefits compared to people who took a placebo.

Despite the conflicting results, the FDA 体育投注网址 on May 1 for the emergency use of remdesivir.

In early June, federal officials their supply of remdesivir will run out by the end of June. Gilead is ramping up production, but it’s unclear how much of the drug will be available this summer.

体育投注网址In mid-July, Gilead officials results from an ongoing phase III trial of remdesivir. They said the drug was “associated with an improvement in clinical recovery and a 62 percent reduction in the risk of mortality compared with standard of care.” They called it an an “important finding that requires confirmation in prospective clinical trials.”


This antiviral was tested along with the drug lopinavir/ritonavir as a treatment for COVID-19.

体育投注网址Researchers in mid-April that the two drugs didn’t improve the clinical outcomes for people hospitalized with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.


体育投注网址This drug was created by scientists at a nonprofit biotech company owned by Emory University.

体育投注网址Research in mice has shown that it can of multiple coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

体育投注网址Pharmaceutical company Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP signed an in May to develop this drug. It’s already being tested in a in the United Kingdom.

体育投注网址Unlike remdesivir, EIDD-2801 can be taken orally, which would make it available to a larger number of people.


This drug is approved in some countries outside the United States to treat influenza.

Some suggest it may work as a treatment for COVID-19. These results, though, haven’t been published yet.

Japan, where the medication is made, is for clinical trial testing in people with mild or moderate COVID-19. are testing to see whether the drug can help fight outbreaks in long-term care homes.


This is a combination of two drugs — lopinavir and ritonavir — that work against HIV.

体育投注网址 are being done to see whether it also works against SARS-CoV-2.

One small published May 4 in the journal Med by Cell Press found that lopinavir/ritonavir didn’t improve outcomes in people with mild or moderate COVID-19 compared to those receiving standard care.

体育投注网址Another , published May 7 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the drug combination wasn’t effective for people with severe COVID-19.

But another found that people who were given lopinavir/ritonavir along with two other drugs — ribavirin and interferon beta-1b — took less time to clear the virus from their body. This study was published May 8 in The Lancet.

Merimepodib (VX-497)

体育投注网址This drug developed by ViralClear Pharmaceuticals Inc. has been shown previously to have antiviral and immune-suppressing effects. It was tested against hepatitis C but had only .

The company is of this drug. People with advanced COVID-19 will be randomized to receive either merimepodib with remdesivir, or remdesivir plus a placebo.

体育投注网址The company hopes to have results by late summer of this year.

体育投注网址 to see whether the pain medication could be used for people hospitalized with COVID-19.

体育投注网址Their theory is ibuprofen’s anti-inflammatory qualities could help ease breathing difficulties associated with the illness.

Monoclonal antibodies

These drugs trigger the immune system to attack the virus. Like antibodies made by the body’s immune system, these laboratory-made molecules target a specific invader, such as SARS-CoV-2.

体育投注网址The small biotech company Sorrento Therapeutics it has an antibody drug that has been effective in early testing in blocking SARS-CoV-2.

The company say the drug could potentially be used to treat people with COVID-19 as well as help prevent infection.

体育投注网址 has isolated 500 unique antibodies from a person who recovered from COVID-19 and is set to start testing them.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. is in four groups: people hospitalized with COVID-19; people with symptoms of the disease but not hospitalized; healthy people at high risk of getting sick with COVID-19; and healthy people who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

体育投注网址The company hopes to have results by the fall.

has isolated antibodies from people who survived SARS, another disease caused by a coronavirus. The company is working with Chinese firm WuXi Biologics to test them as a treatment for COVID-19.

Convalescent plasma

Along the same lines, the FDA has a process for medical facilities to conduct trials on an experimental treatment that uses blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

体育投注网址The theory is that their plasma contains antibodies that will attack this particular coronavirus.

In late May, researchers that 19 of 25 people with COVID-19 who were treated with convalescent plasma transfusions at Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas had improved. Eleven of those patients have been released from the hospital.

In late March, the New York Blood Center from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

体育投注网址The and are also leading convalescent plasma programs.

Immune modulators

体育投注网址In some people with COVID-19, the immune system goes into overdrive, releasing large amounts of small proteins called cytokines.

Scientists think this “cytokine storm” may be the reason certain people with severe COVID-19 develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and need to be put on a ventilator.

体育投注网址Several immune suppressants are being tested in clinical trials to see whether the drugs can quell the cytokine storm and reduce the severity of ARDS.

In mid-June, U.K. researchers announced that the inexpensive corticosteroid dexamethasone reduced deaths by about a third in people with severe COVID-19 who were on ventilators, and by a fifth in those who needed oxygen support.

体育投注网址The results haven’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The drug, though, is already approved for other conditions and can be given orally or intravenously.

Other drugs being tested include , a drug for rheumatoid arthritis; , a drug for pancreatic cancer; and .

The FDA has also approved a device that 体育投注网址 out of the blood of patients with COVID-19.

Stem cells

体育投注网址 began a phase II/III clinical trial that will examine whether the company’s stem cell treatment could potentially benefit people with ARDS.

Mesoblast has also developed a potential stem cell treatment for ARDS. The company is enrolling people with moderate to severe ARDS into a in the United States.

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine

体育投注网址These drugs received emergency use authorization from the FDA at the end of March.

On June 15, the FDA 体育投注网址 that authorization, citing studies that indicated hydroxychloroquine didn’t significantly help people with COVID-19 and may have caused serious health risks.

At the time of the FDA authorization in March, manufacturer Novartis about 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine and 1 million doses of chloroquine to the nation’s existing Strategic National Stockpile.

体育投注网址The United States is now left with and 2 million doses of chloroquine in its emergency stockpile.

Clinical results for the drugs have been mixed. Studies published in May in the and showed that the drugs didn’t help people with COVID-19.

In late May, the World Health Organization it was halting its clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine due to safety concerns.

In mid-June, the National Institutes of Health of hydroxychloroquine after data showed that the drug was no better than an inactive placebo.

In late June, British officials they would restart a global clinical trial on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

体育投注网址 before they can be approved for widespread use in people.

体育投注网址It’s also difficult to speed things up, because scientists have to enroll enough people in each stage to have useful results. They also have to wait long enough to see whether there are harmful side effects of the drug.

However, drugs can sometimes be given to people outside a clinical trial through the FDA’s “体育投注网址” program. For this to happen, people must have an “immediately life-threatening condition or serious disease or condition.”

体育投注网址Doctors at the were able to secure this type of approval for a woman with severe COVID-19 to receive remdesivir. They reported she was doing well.

体育投注网址Many will take this as a sign that the drug works. But because the drug was given outside of a clinical trial to just one person, it’s not possible to know for certain. Also, other people may not have the same response to the drug.

Improvements in testing can also reduce COVID-19 deaths by slowing the spread of the virus. As cities and states lift stay-at-home and physical distancing orders, increased testing体育投注网址 will be needed to prevent large spikes in infections.

The FDA has granted emergency use authorizations for many 体育投注网址. Companies and universities around the world also continue to develop new ones.

On May 8, the FDA announced the of the first at-home saliva-based COVID-19 diagnostic test.

The test, which was designed by 体育投注网址, allows people to spit in a tube at home and mail it back to the Rutgers lab for testing.

This is the first at-home test approved involving saliva collection — all other approved at-home tests are conducted via a .

The Rutgers test will hopefully expand access to people unable to easily make it to a clinic or drive-thru testing facility. The test is currently only available by prescription.

New 体育投注网址 were posted by the FDA in early May designed to expedite the development and approval of more at-home self-collection kits to further expand access to testing.

体育投注网址Under the new guidance, test developers are encouraged to reach out to the FDA to ensure their kits and shipping methods are in compliance with the most up-to-date regulations.

One commercially available test developed by scientists in Europe can show in 15 minutes whether someone has an infection. The test uses a sample collected with a nasopharyngeal swab inserted into the nose.

A real-world found that the test could detect 6 out of 10 people with an infection. It performed much better at identifying when an infection wasn’t present.

While the test isn’t 100 percent effective, it doesn’t require special reagents or trained laboratory staff to run. This would make it ideal for health clinics or in low- and middle-income countries with few clinical laboratories.

But it would have to be part of a broader testing strategy.

体育投注网址 to recognize and attack the virus when it encounters it.

Vaccines protect both the person who’s vaccinated and the community. Viruses can’t infect people who are vaccinated, which means vaccinated people can’t pass the virus to others. This is known as .

体育投注网址 are working on potential COVID-19 vaccines, with several backed by the nonprofit .

There are around the world centered on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of May 11, eight candidate vaccines were being tested in clinical trials in people.

An official at the National Institutes of Health in mid-May that large-scale testing could begin in July, with a vaccine potentially available by January.

体育投注网址 the more likely timeline is summer or fall 2021.

体育投注网址Here’s a look at some of the projects:

  • Moderna. In March, the company began testing its messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine in a in Seattle, Washington. In mid-May, the company the vaccine had produced antibodies in all 45 trial participants in this initial clinical phase. The study included 45 healthy volunteers, ages 18 to 55, who are getting two shots 28 days apart. The company has developed other mRNA vaccines before. Those earlier studies showed that their platform is safe, which allowed the company to skip certain animal testing for this specific vaccine. In early May, the company from the FDA to start a phase II study of its vaccine. The company expects to in July. The FDA also agreed to regulatory review of this vaccine if it succeeds in a phase III clinical trial.
  • Inovio. When COVID-19 appeared in December, the company had already been working on a . This allowed the company to quickly develop a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Company officials announced at the end of April that it had enrolled in its phase I clinical trial. It’s preparing to start a phase II/III clinical trial this summer.
  • University of Oxford in England. A with more than 500 participants began in late April. Oxford officials said the potential vaccine has an 80 percent chance for success and could be available as early as September. The vaccine uses a modified virus to trigger the immune system. The university has partnered with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The company in mid-May the vaccine was effective against COVID-19 after it was given to six rhesus macaque monkeys. The company expects to begin a late-stage clinical trial by the . Officials in mid-May that if the clinical trial is successful, they could deliver 30 million doses by September.
  • University of Queensland in Australia. Researchers are developing a vaccine by growing viral proteins in cell cultures. They began in early April. The in people will begin in early July.
  • Pharmaceutical companies. and are both working on a vaccine of their own. Johnson & Johnson it will begin early stage human clinical trials in July. Pfizer has also teamed up with German biotech company BioNTech to develop a vaccine. In early July, Pfizer that the vaccine produced an immune response in people during an early stage clinical trial. They added the vaccine did cause side effects such as fever at higher doses.

体育投注网址Advances in genetic sequencing and other technological developments have sped up some of the earlier laboratory work for vaccine development.

体育投注网址However, Fauci told reporters in March that a vaccine won’t be available for widespread use for at least another .

This is the timeline to complete the phase III clinical studies.

Others are more optimistic, saying we might see some vaccines by the .

The Trump administration has been promoting this faster timeline, but two administration officials recently away from guaranteeing this.

Fauci in the journal Science in May that multiple successful vaccines may be needed to meet the demand of vaccinating billions of people worldwide.

Even if a vaccine is developed and distributed, it’s unlikely to be completely effective. The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is effective of the time while the seasonal flu vaccine tops out at .

体育投注网址Still, even a less-effective vaccine may reduce the severity of disease if someone gets COVID-19.

But are worried that people who get the vaccine may stop doing other measures needed to control the spread of the new coronavirus, such as handwashing and staying home when sick.

体育投注网址 that a “human challenge trial” could speed up the vaccine clinical trials — potentially shaving months off the timeline.

体育投注网址In this type of trial, healthy volunteers are given a potential vaccine and then intentionally infected with the virus.

体育投注网址Usually, researchers wait for a person given a test vaccine to naturally contract the virus. Then they look at how well the person was protected by the vaccine.

There are no plans for this kind of study in the United States, but in more than 140 countries have signed up to take part.

A human challenge trial raises many . One is that there’s still a lot we don’t know about this virus and disease, including who will get seriously ill or die from COVID-19.

That means people can’t really know the risks of participating in the study, so they wouldn’t be able to give high-quality informed consent. This is an essential part of modern clinical trials.

体育投注网址Given the scope of the pandemic, though, some experts think this type of trial will happen eventually.

体育投注网址In preparation for this, the World Health Organization recently released to navigate these tricky waters.

Meanwhile, some clinical trials are underway in 体育投注网址, the , and to see whether existing vaccines for tuberculosis might also protect against SARS-CoV-2.

The is another possible option. Scientists think these vaccines might boost the immune system just enough to fight off the new coronavirus, although there’s no evidence yet to confirm this theory.

体育投注网址Two U.S. researchers suggest that the might offer protection against inflammation and sepsis in people with COVID-19. They recommend starting a clinical trial with the MMR vaccine in healthcare workers.

体育投注网址There’s no guarantee any of the vaccine candidates will work.

体育投注网址“There’s a lot of uncertainty with vaccine development,” Lee said. “Naturally, you have to make sure the vaccine is safe. But you also have to make sure the vaccine will elicit enough of an immune response.”

Like drugs, potential vaccines have to pass through the same . This is especially important when it comes to safety, even during a pandemic.

“The public’s willingness to back quarantines and other public-health measures to slow spread tends to correlate with how much people trust the government’s health advice,” , a virologist at Fudan University in China, wrote in the journal .

体育投注网址“A rush into potentially risky vaccines and therapies will betray that trust and discourage work to develop better assessments,” he wrote.

  • Phase I. The drug is given to a small number of healthy people and people with a disease to look for side effects and figure out the best dose.
  • Phase II. The drug is given to several hundred people who have the disease, looking to see whether it works and if there are any side effects that weren’t caught during the initial testing.
  • Phase III. In this large-scale trial, the drug is given to several hundred or even up to 3,000 people. A similar group of people take a placebo, or inactive compound. The trial is usually randomized and can take 1 to 4 years. This stage provides the best evidence of how the drug works and the most common side effects.
  • Phase IV. Drugs that are approved for use undergo continued monitoring to make sure there are no other side effects, especially serious or long-term ones.