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Officials look to malaria drug, experimental antivirals as COVID-19 therapies

Updated: May 13, 2020

President Donald Trump said this week that the malaria drug chloroquine and the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir are being tested as possible COVID-19 therapies and could slow the epidemic.

"It could have a very positive effect, or a positive effect, maybe not very, but maybe positive," Trump said. "It’s very, very exciting."

There is no current treatment for the virus beyond supportive care that generally includes IV liquids, oxygen, fever reducers and pain killers.

Chloroquine as been in use since 1944 to fight malaria and has antiviral effects. Researchers believe it may interfere with the ability of the new virus to fuse to cell walls and infect them.

Remdesivir is an antiviral drug used to treat the Ebola virus and is known to be effective against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), both coronaviruses with similarities to SARS-CoV-2. It is an experimental drug developed a decade ago by Gilead Sciences, a California-based biotech firm.


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