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Are there therapies available to treat COVID-19?
Scientists are currently testing different types of antivirals.
Remdesivir is one treatment that's been shown in a clinical trial to have an effect on COVID-19. Results from that trial, which included sites worldwide, found that the drug reduced patients' length of hospital stay by about four or five days. The trial did not show the drug had a significant impact on deaths. Remdesivir is in limited supply.
Dexamethasone, a cheap, widely available steroid, has been shown to reduce deaths by one-third among patients on mechanical ventilators, and by one-fifth among patients receiving supplemental oxygen by other means.
Monoclonal antibody treatments, one from Regeneron and one from Eli Lilly, are both authorized for use in mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients at least 12 years of age who are not hospitalized but are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19. In clinical trials, Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody reduced people's risk of getting hospitalized by 72 percent. Regeneron's cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies reduced doctor visits and trips to the hospital by 57 percent. These treatments are in limited supply.
To date, career public servant-scientists at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Before the EUA was granted, independent experts serving on the FDA's vaccine advisory committee had voted overwhelming that, for people 16 years old and above, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. Canada and Britain have also cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use. There are limited doses of the vaccine, and it is expected the vaccine will first be made available to those most at risk to COVID-19 - health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities - although this will differ by state. For more information on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, check out this nice FAQ from NPR.
The Milken Institute is curating a resource that tracks COVID-19 treatments and vaccine progress.
Updated 12 December 2020