Despite the lack of a cure for coronavirus, doctors still manage to treat people. Doctors use drugs designed to treat other diseases that are considered dangerous due to side effects. True, they are not needed by everyone: someone is helped by their own immunity and natural remedies (although you’d better not repeat this at home).
In December 2019, the world learned about a new type of virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It was called 2019-nCov but most often it is simply called coronavirus since it refers to this type of strain. Despite the blockage of Wuhan, the disease managed to spread rapidly around the world, and on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization announced the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shortly after that, the lack of antivirals and antimalarial drugs was announced. So, Secure Tabs Official Website reported a significant increase in demand for lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra) and chloroquine (Aralen). The pharmacy’s representative told reporters that their customers had bought up a month’s supply of these drugs in a week. In most pharmacies interviewed by correspondents, it was impossible to buy the mentioned medications or other antiviral drugs.
As of March 26, 471,820 people are infected with coronavirus, of which over 21,295 died, 114,703 thousand recovered. However, before starting treatment, it is necessary to confirm that you have COVID-2019.
Signs of coronavirus: cough, fever, weakness
Symptoms of coronavirus can be easily confused with the symptoms of acute respiratory viral infections or influenza. We listed not only the main symptoms of the disease but also those that occur not in all infected people.
Typical symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and weakness. Some people had additional ones: a runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, body aches, and diarrhea. True, the virus is insidious and the disease can be asymptomatic. In some cases, respiratory problems appear only in the second week of the disease.
If you notice these signs of the disease, contact a doctor immediately.
Doctors treat coronavirus with antimalarial and HIV drugs
As a supportive treatment, patients may be offered drugs that lower body temperature, colds, mucolytics and bronchodilators. In addition, those who are infected with a mild illness should drink plenty of fluids, this will help to avoid dehydration.
Also, if the patient has vomiting or diarrhea, enterosorbents may be prescribed. However, all these remedies help alleviate the symptoms of the disease but not cure it. At this stage, the main ally of a person in the fight against coronavirus is immunity.
So far, there is no medicine for COVID-2019 but there are drugs that have been successfully used by Chinese doctors. One of them is ribavirin in combination with lopinavir/ritonavir (also known as Kaletra). Rivabirin is a drug for combating respiratory syncytial virus (a type of virus that causes respiratory tract infections). But it has a number of serious side effects, including hemolytic anemia (destruction of red blood cells).
Another medicine that can serve a person in the battle against COVID-19 is remdesivir. The experimental drug is used as a broad-spectrum drug. It was originally created to combat Ebola by the American company Gilead Sciences. Remdesivir has been selectively clinically tested in patients in China.
Also, favilavir was widely used in China. This medicine was developed for the treatment of inflammatory processes in the nose and throat, but was also tested in the treatment of coronavirus.
Another drug that is used to treat coronavirus is chloroquine (also known as Aralen). It has been effective in a number of experiments. Chloroquine was developed in 1934. Its molecule penetrates the blood and inhibits the reproduction mechanisms of infectious agents. The medicine has an anti-inflammatory effect and is also used in the treatment of rheumatic diseases. According to reports from China, chloroquine can help treat coronavirus patients. During clinical drug trials, drug shortened the duration of the disease, quickly brought down the fever, and computed tomography showed a significant improvement in lung condition.
Lopinavir + ritonavir, which doctors combine with ribavirin, is a combination used to control HIV infection as an antiviral agent. These drugs were also mentioned by the WHO on the fight against coronavirus.
“It’s not just a cold”: what it’s like to be a coronavirus patient
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 11 March, however, cases of the disease appeared much earlier. For example, this happened with the Welshman Connor Reed, who came to China to teach English as a foreign language and then became an education manager at a school in Wuhan.
Connor felt the first symptoms on November 25, he had a common cold – it all started with a completely harmless sneezing and watery eyes. On the second day, he had a sore throat, which also did not cause the man fear in his life. But on the seventh day he began to feel terrible.
“This was no longer just a cold. Everything hurts, my head breaks, my eyes burn, my throat constricts. The cold has already reached my chest and I began to cough,” Connor recalls.
The next day, Connor did not go to work, his bones hurt, and he could not even get out of bed. The man tried to be treated with Chinese whiskey, and on the tenth day his temperature began to fall but then a relapse occurred. It got worse: breathing was difficult, exhaustion, fever and weakness returned.
Reed realized that he needed to see a doctor, and drove to the hospital by taxi. There he was diagnosed with pneumonia, doctors sent him to undergo tests and then prescribed antibiotics. Connor did not want to be treated with pills, he preferred “old-school methods”, for example, tiger balm.
After 24 days, the man felt better. After a couple of weeks, he received a notification from the hospital where he was taking tests. It turned out that Connor was ill with the very coronavirus, which then was just starting to terrify people in Wuhan. Reed recovered thanks to his immunity, and doctors do not advise following his example with Chinese whiskey and tiger balm.
More official methods for treating coronavirus were reported by a 67-year-old US resident Carl Goldman, who caught COVID-19 on a cruise ship Diamond Princess. His first symptoms were high fever and shortness of breath. Carl felt sick on board the plane when he flew home.
Carl was taken to the National Quarantine Department at the Medical Center of the University of Nebraska, USA. There he was placed in the biocontrol chamber – a fully enclosed room with double glazed windows. The doctors who visited him were dressed in special protective suits.
Goldman was given ibuprofen to reduce fever. To avoid dehydration, Carl had to drink a lot of the isotonic Gatorade. After ten days of this regime, the man was transferred to a ward in another department. He underwent blood tests daily, hospital employees disinfected everything he touched and also traced air particles in his room using a special device.
Carl’s disease was difficult to confuse with a cold or flu: he had neither nasal congestion, nor sore throat or headache. He did have a dry cough, weakness and shortness of breath. In total, Goldman spent more than a month in quarantine, and for now he is still not allowed to return home.
The man should also not open windows and see loved ones, except for FaceTime calls. He is feeling fine now but he is still coughing. Despite this, coronavirus tests show that Carl is infected. Scientists are still figuring out if people with COVID-2019 dead cells can get positive strain test results.
Coronavirus disease advice for the public
Despite the fact that it is possible to recover from coronavirus, it is better not to get sick at all. At least that’s what WHO experts say. That is why the official website of the organization lists a number of COVID-19-related recommendations. To begin with, experts advise you to regularly wash your hands with soap and wipe them with disinfectants. You should also stop touching your face with your hands.
In addition, you should observe a distance of one meter between yourself and those who sneeze or cough. You must also make sure that you and the people around you cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or cloth when sneezing or coughing. In case you feel weak, have fever or difficulty breathing and coughing, you should stay at home and contact the doctors!