The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said he’s “optimistic” an “effective treatment” for Covid-19 will be available in two to three months.
“There is a lot of progress in therapeutics,” Collins told CNN Friday. “We have two proven drugs — remdesivir and dexamethasone, both proven in rigorous randomized control trials, which is the only way you really know if something works.”
What are they: Remdesivir is an antiviral drug that has been shown to reduce the amount of time people are ill with Covid-19. Dexamethasone is a steroid that may reduce the rate of deaths among seriously ill patients.
“And we’re in the process of starting, just in the very near future, clinical trials on other compounds — for instance, anticoagulants,” Collins said.
“We know that people who get very sick, there’s something that happens, the blood clots start forming and we could probably help them a lot if we tried to block that. And, maybe most exciting for therapeutics in my view, the use of monoclonal antibodies derived from people who have survived, who have made these antibodies that help them recover, and those can now be turned into products and those trials will get started very soon as well.
“I’m optimistic, without being able to be confident completely, that we’ll have something maybe as soon as two or three months from now, in terms of an effective treatment.”
What about a vaccine? Collins is also optimistic about the development of a successful vaccine by the end of the year.
“The first vaccine trial, as you probably heard, building on very successful preliminary data, will get started around about July 27 all across the southern part of the country where the virus is spreading and we’re going to find out whether it works by asking 30,000 people to join,” he said.
Collins says if one of the vaccine trials is successful, there will be “tens of millions of doses ready to go by the end of 2020, the end of the calendar year.”
“That’s never been done before at this speed. We’re not compromising on the safety. We’ll be sure that they work, but if it does, we’ll be ready to go … as soon as possible,” he added.
But Collins said he’s worried about what he sees as some Americans’ skepticism of vaccines, adding that it’s important for everyone to get the vaccine when it’s available.
“One of the things I’m worried about is there’s a lot of skepticism in America about the vaccine and something like 25% of people say I’m not sure I would take that vaccine,” he said.
“It’ll be really critical to do that if we’re going to develop the level of herd immunity across the country so that this doesn’t come roaring back the next time, the next fall, the next summer. We won’t know.”