COVID Treatment Pill Could Be Ready by the End of the Year, Scientists Say

·2-min read
Photo credit: Monty Rakusen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Monty Rakusen - Getty Images

Scientists are working on a pill that can prevent symptoms of COVID-19 and limit transmission of the virus – and if the clinical trials are successful, it could be ready to roll out by the end of the year.

At least three promising antiviral treatments for the disease are currently in the trial stage, according to NBC, in the form of a short-term regimen of pills, which are taken for five to 10 days at the first confirmation of COVID infection.

The pills work very similarly to the type of antiviral medication used to fight hepatitis C, HIV, and influenza – that is, by interfering with the viruses' ability to replicate in human cells, which essentially stops symptoms in their tracks. (continued below)


“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, a virologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill who helped to pioneer the therapies, told NBC.

One antiviral drug – remdesivir – has already been approved to treat COVID, but it's administered to hospitalised patients through a drip, so it's unsuitable for early, widespread use. A packet of oral medication could change everything. Since the trials are on track to wrap up by the end of 2021, we won't have to wait long for the outcome.

“I think that we will have answers as to what these pills are capable of within the next several months,” Carl Diefenbach, director of the division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC. If the results are positive, it's likely that emergency use would be granted and “distribution could begin quickly,” he added.

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