How long will it take before efficient new drugs emerge to tackle COVID-19? As part of a Futuris episode exploring how scientists are using AI and supercomputers to unlock the mysteries of the coronavirus, Euronews to Johan Neyts, Professor of Virology at KU Leuven in Belgium.
How long will it take before new drugs become available?
"We should be humble. It is just a couple of months after the virus has been identified. We will not identify, of course, highly potent drugs against coronviruses soon. Again, for AIDS and hepatitis viruses, this took many many years before highly potent drugs become available. It is doable, but you need time." says Neyts.
What type of drugs might we see?
"So the best results of drugs that we will find, and that we are finding, are molecules that do inhibit the virus with at least some type of potency, some type of potency that may perhaps be sufficient to make a difference in very sick patients or perhaps even in patients that are in the early stages of the disease. (We can find) a molecule that may block the replication of the virus in the lungs and help the patients to recover fast. But maybe we' ll have to combine a couple of such compounds to have sufficient potency. And then we hopefully should be able to help patients...
Professor Neyts sums up by saying: "...we should be realistic. The World did not prepare for a pandemic, so we can not just in a couple of months come up with the best drugs, the most potent compounds; nobody can. So the lesson for the future is that humankind should prepare for the new pandemics. Because new pandemics will happen again."