Though it’s been over 3 years since COVID-19 was first identified, the pandemic continues. The latest development in the unceasing process of the virus’ mutations continues with what’s now known as XE Omicron. This new variant may be the most transmissible type of COVID to date.
Though vaccination rates in Canada are now above 80%, we know that it’s still possible for vaccinated individuals to get COVID. Here, hospitalizations can be expensive. Yet as we’ve covered in a previous article, approved oral medications like Remdesivir can be equally pricey.
Fortunately, the pandemic has spurred the world’s greatest minds to hit the drawing board — and this means multiple therapies now provide more treatment options for those with the virus. We discuss a few of them below.
Monoclonal antibody therapy
This is one of the tried-and-tested alternatives to oral COVID-19 medications. Monoclonal antibody therapy is described by SymptomFind as already being used to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, some types of cancer, and infections like Ebola. As indicated by the word “antibody,” these injections train your immune system to fight COVID-19. Unlike vaccines, however, they work to speed up your recovery after you’ve already been diagnosed with the virus. It’s usually recommended for those already hospitalized with severe COVID and for age groups more vulnerable to the virus. Though treatments cost thousands of dollars, the Canadian government is currently shouldering these costs for those qualified to receive them.
Meanwhile, researchers have found another contender for COVID-19 treatment from an unlikely source: antidepressants. A recent study published in the Lancet found that fluvoxamine — a drug usually prescribed to those with an obsessive-compulsive disorder — could effectively reduce the need for hospitalization in patients with COVID-19. This was determined in a randomized trial where fluvoxamine was tested against a placebo. The positive impact of fluvoxamine is attributed to its anti-inflammatory effects and potential antiviral properties. Finally, the study found that fluvoxamine treatments are relatively inexpensive as compared to existing oral COVID-19 medications. A 15-day treatment costs around CAD 41.60, while a 5-day treatment of Remdesivir costs nearly CAD 3,000.
One emerging treatment with a lot of potential is convalescent plasma. This is derived from the blood of individuals who have already recovered from COVID-19. The idea is that this blood already contains naturally-produced antibodies, which can prevent hospitalization and facilitate a speedier recovery. Like monoclonal antibody therapy, this treatment has previously been used for other kinds of conditions. With regards to COVID-19, it may work best when administered early in the course of an infection. In the early phases of the pandemic, many governments approved convalescent plasma for emergency use. Today, the World Health Organization aims to perfect this treatment by currently limiting its use to clinical trials.
We’re currently living through a life-altering historical event — the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet despite this, it appears that treatments for the virus are inaccessible to a majority of the global population. Fortunately, these treatments are set to change the game by giving more options and a better chance of recovery for millions.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.