Could daily COVID-19 treatment pill be in near future?

A clinical trial is being conducted for a COVID-19 anti-viral treatment that would be given in a daily pill form.

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The trial is being done at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where patients with early-stage COVID-19 are given multiple pills twice a day. Some are getting the medication, while others are getting a placebo, NBC News reported.

The hope is that oral antivirals will help prevent symptoms from developing after a person is exposed to the illness.

“Oral antivirals have the potential to not only curtail the duration of one’s COVID-19 syndrome but also have the potential to limit transmission to people in your household if you are sick,” Timothy Sheahan told NBC News.

>>Previous coverage: Coronavirus: US investing $3.2 billion to develop pills to treat COVID-19

Sheahan is a virologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who has worked on various medical treatments.

Other viral infections like hepatitis C and HIV are managed by similar treatments. One of the best known is Tamiflu and it’s used to shorten the length of influenza and reduce the need for hospitalization in some cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The clinical trial at the Hutchinson Cancer Center isn’t the only one going on right now.

>>Previous coverage: Coronavirus: Pill that fights COVID-19 virus showing promise in trials

There are at least three being conducted with the results expected late fall or early winter, according to the director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the group overseeing all antiviral development.

There is currently only one antiviral on the market approved to treat COVID-19, remdesivir, but it has to be given intravenously, according to the National Institutes of Health. Other drugs like chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are also being evaluated, but have not been approved, according to the NIH.

For more on the clinical studies, including two patients’ personal stories, click here.

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