Companies are racing to find antivirals for the novel coronavirus

Market shares for the pharma companies has risen since the past one month

Countries are scrambling to find a medical miracle that could effectively help patients cure coronavirus. China has started clinical trials while Gilead Sciences based in America has already developed an anti-viral that is being tested.

Presently there is no active cure that has been developed against the virus and is being treated with antivirals and other measures. The experimental antiviral drug developed by Gilead is being tested on a patient in the US. Several big biotech companies are hoping that they will be able to find a solution. The companies are focusing on ground zero of the virus in the hope that it can reduce the further spread and understand the symptoms.

Treatment plans and experimental drugs

Coronavirus outbreak in China (Representational picture) Pixabay

The experimental drug called Remdesivir, developed by Gilead was used on an American patient and the symptoms seem to have improved. The drug was used for the emergency treatment of Ebola but it has not been licensed or approved.

It was also successful in treating SARS and MERS, two respiratory diseases similar to the Wuhan virus. Gilead's share rose by five percent on Monday and they are working together with Beijing's China-Japan Friendship Hospital with a partnership to test out their antiviral drug. China has started drug trials at multiple hospitals in the central city of Wuhan, said China's National Health Commission on Monday. Around 270 patients are taking part in the study.

The World Health Organisation is also working with several partners to research and develop a drug and find a treatment for the pneumonia-like illness. They also said that although antibiotics do not work on viruses it can be used to treat the coinfections.

The Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan who worked on the SARS virus said that although there is no proper medication for the virus it was seen that some of the other treatments were working on the patients. The NHC is releasing the medical treatment plans for the patients to guide the medical staff across the country. It has been asking the hospitals to use antivirals that are usually used for HIV like lopinavir and ritonavir and if the case is severe then to treat them with life support.

Most of the severe cases are associated with the elderly and the ones that passed away due to the virus had multiple organ failures. The treatment by the NHC is mainly to support the body to fight the virus. Most of the antivirals haven't been completely effective. But one patient who recovered from the virus Wang Guangfa, a respiratory specialist from the Peking University First Hospital in Beijing said that he recovered because of antivirals and resting. Medical professionals continue to say that the proper precaution is the key to containing the disease.

Not just Gilead but JNJ and GSK are working on vaccines

Investors are being quite anxious watching Gilead lead the race towards finding an antiviral. But, Gilead Sciences is not the only company looking out to testing the antivirals. Pharmaceuticals like Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline are also working on separate projects to find a vaccine for the virus.

Another biotech company AbbVie in a joint venture with the Swiss pharma giant Roche and Japan's Chugai Pharmaceutical Co said that they are hoping that the treatment they are developing with two HIV medication and Tamiflu will hopefully help in curing the virus.

Smaller pharma companies like Moderna, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and Novavax are also working on treatments. The stocks for these companies have surged in the past month.

Related topics : Coronavirus