THOUSANDS of coronavirus patients may have their lives saved by new drug combinations which could help them recover quicker, experts have claimed.
A string of medical trials have suggested treatments such as existing anti-viral or anti-malaria medicines could help the human body better fight the infection, vastly improving the speed and rate at which patients get better.
More than 30 laboratories around the world are working on a vaccine for the disease but it may take more than a year before they can be used, as tests on safety and efficiency are needed.
At a press conference last night, prime minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Today we have put the first British corona patient into a randomised trial for drugs that may treat the disease.’ He added: ‘UK experts and scientists expect to start trials for the first vaccine within a month.’
And earlier, US president Donald Trump called on the US Food and Drug Administration to streamline its regulatory approval process. ‘We have to remove every barrier,’ he said.
Meanwhile, scientists have said other treatments could greatly improve outcomes for Covid-19 patients — and they could be available within weeks.
Microbiologist Sir Chris Evans (pictured above) estimates there are more than 1,000 research projects being carried out globally into Covid-19 treatment -many promising.
The biotech entrepreneur told BBC News: ‘They are using existing drugs, combinations of drugs, anti-malaria, anti-viral — a whole range of compounds — and some of the data that I’ve seen is superb.
‘I’m very, very encouraged. I think you may see some of these drug compounds coming out in a month.’
He added: ‘These drugs, they are not vaccines but what they can do, particularly with the elderly, is that they can stop them dying and they can accelerate the reduction in the infection and get them off ventilators — and hopefully out of hospital quickly.’
Existing medicines which may bring hope include the low-cost anti-malarial drug chloroquine, which has been used for more than 70 years, and remdesivir, an anti-viral drug used to treat Ebola.
A recent study in Marseille, France, led by Prof Didier Raoult, found that of 20 seriously ill coronavirus hospital patients treated with chloroquine, 14 were recovered in six days and considered ‘cured’.
Dr Andrew Preston, of the University of Bath, said: ‘Among the oppressive darkness of the current situation, any glimmer of hope is very welcome.’
Prof Robin May, an expert from the University of Birmingham, said: ‘The safety profile of chloroquine is well-established and it is cheap and relatively easy to manufacture, so it would — theoretically — be fairly easy to accelerate into clinical trials and, if successful, eventually into treatment.’