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Are there therapies available to treat COVID-19?

There are currently a variety of treatments for COVID-19. Timing is crucial for when these treatments should be administered.

Monoclonal antibody treatments, one from Regeneron and two from Eli Lilly, have both been granted emergency use authorization from the FDA for 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. They should be administered immediately following a positive direct SARS-CoV-2 viral test and within 10 days of symptom onset. In results from larger clinical trials, Eli Lilly announced their antibody cocktail reduced the risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 by 70 percent. This builds off earlier clinical trials that demonstrated a significant reduction in hospitalizations in patients given the cocktail. Regeneron's cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies reduced doctor visits, telemedicine visits, urgent care or emergency department visits, and trips to the hospital by 49 percent. These treatments are in limited supply.

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.

Convalescent plasma was given emergency use authorization by the FDA in August 2020. Further updates as of February 2021 advised administration of convalescent plasma with high amounts of antibodies early in the disease course. In January 2021, a published study found that in COVID-19 patients not receiving mechanical ventilation, a reduction in death was observed in those patients administered convalescent plasma with high levels of antibodies as compared to those given convalescent plasma with low levels of antibodies. A small, randomized clinical trial, published in February 2021, found that administration of convalescent plasma within 3 days of symptoms in older COVID-19 patients reduced their risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness by 48 percent as compared to patients given a placebo. Supply of convalescent plasma has been limited with convalescent plasma containing high levels of antibodies representing a small fraction of the overall collected convalescent plasma.

For the latest update on vaccines against COVID-19, click here.

The Milken Institute is curating a resource that tracks COVID-19 treatments and vaccine progress.

Updated 18 February 2021

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