SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The race for a coronavirus cure, put in the spotlight by President Trump and Food & drug administration.

The White House Coronavirus Task-force discussing their efforts to green light treatments and medications to curb symptoms and help sick people recover.

The task-force highlighting two drugs that already exist to treat other sicknesses by saying they are proving promising in treating COVID-19.

Officials said that while a vaccine is in the trial stage, they believe the faster route to ending the pandemic is through one of these already-existing medications.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said 17,000 people are working around the clock on treatments for the coronavirus.

"Yes, there are drugs in the pipeline. We're looking at all of them. We get calls every day that the FDA about day we are looking at every single one of them," Hahn explained.

Hahn said one drug that already is approved for treating malaria, is showing promise as a possible coronavirus remedy.

Western Mass News spoke over the phone to Seth Housman, a clinical professor in Western New England University’s pharmacy program.

He explained why hydroxychloroquine, an anti-parasite drug approved in the 50s could be effective in treating today’s novel coronavirus.

"Ultimately binding to DNA or RNA and interfering with specific metabolism that usually happens in parasites like malaria. We also think that within the RNA, that this is likely potentially the mechanism behind its activity against COVID-19," Housman noted.

Housman said another drug, antiviral remdesivir, which has not been approved by the FDA...could be another option.

"It specifically has some activity against the coronavirus as well," Housman said.

President Trump today talking about cutting FDA regulations to speed up the process of testing possible drugs.

Housman said it’s a matter of weighing risk and reward in times like these.

"We need to speed that process up in a pandemic to go from many years to many months or less than many months and that can be difficult because ultimately we don’t specifically know the safety and efficacy of the drug," Housman explained.

Housman explained that the usual course for a drug pending approval goes like this:

  • Phase 1 is tested on a small group of healthy people to make sure it’s safe.
  • Phase 2 is tested on a slightly larger group of people to make sure it is effective in fighting the virus.
  • Phase 3 is tested on a large group of different kinds of people to make sure it’s both safe and effective for the masses.

Housman said remdesivir is in Phase 3.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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