Researchers optimistic about COVID-19 treatment could be on horizon

Researchers optimistic about CVID-19 treatment could be on horizon

CHARLOTTE — North Carolina researchers are hopeful a treatment could be on the horizon.

“It’s exceedingly fast and it’s overwhelming our capacity to respond,” said Dr. Ralph Baric, an epidemiologist.

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Baric heads up an elite team of medical research professionals based at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill.

“I think the public needs to realize the extraordinary mobilization of the American scientific community," Baric said.

Coronaviruses are no stranger to Baric's team, because of the SARS outbreak in 2002 that started in China and spread to 30 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.

Baric said because of that outbreak, researchers are not starting from scratch unlike the AIDS epidemic.

"We didn't have any drugs,” he said. “It took five years of intensive research before we could do anything."

That is not the case now. A drug that Baric's team came up with is already in human trials in China.

Remdesivir failed as a drug to treat Ebola, but it has shown great promise against all the coronaviruses in animal experiments.

"They are moving air more easily through their lungs,” Baric said. “There is less debris in the airways, which contributes to making it difficult to breathe."

Some of the results from that trial should be available in April, and it’s too early to say if it will be approved in humans.

Coronavirus Know the facts directly from the CDC about COVID-19