In contrast to premature (and sometimes downright erroneous) mainstream media reports about quick fixes for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both released reliable information about progress toward corralling the outbreak. First, the FDA has issued an emergency-use authorization for a point-of-care test for emergency use in patients suspected of having COVID-19. The Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test (Cepheid) is intended for use in high- and moderate-complexity CLIA-certified laboratories and in patient-care settings and is designed to provider results within hours. The FDS says it should be rolled out by March 30. Meanwhile, the CDC confirms testing of the investigational agent remdesivir, an intravenous drug with broad antiviral activity that inhibits viral replication through premature termination of RNA transcription and has in-vitro activity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and in-vitro and in-vivo activity against related beta-coronaviruses. Currently, it’s being tested as follows:
- In hospitalized patients with COVID-19 with pneumonia and hypoxia and oxygen saturation of 94% or lower on room air or who require supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation
- As a 5-day vs a 10-day course in patients with severe COVID-19, radiographic evidence of pneumonia, and oxygen saturation of 94% or less on room air
- As a 5-day vs a 10-day course vs standard of care in patients with moderate COVID-19, radiographic evidence of pneumonia, and oxygen saturation of over 94% on room air
Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are also being investigated for the treatment of COVID-19. Both drugs have in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2, and other coronaviruses, with the CDC noting that hydroxychloroquine has relatively higher potency against SARS-CoV-2.