How Close Are We to Finding a Treatment for COVID-19?

Scientists are following several paths in the battle with COVID-19 as they seek to help treat patients in the short term and protect the population in the future.

The global pandemic has prompted possibly the largest and fastest mobilization of the global scientific community we’ve ever seen. Researchers are working around the clock to find a solution, trials are being initiated at record speed, and businesses are offering up their resources to help in any way they can. It has been a collective response encompassing governments, academia, charities, the pharmaceutical industry, and local communities. But with all that effort, how close are we to a developing a drug to treat or prevent COVID-19?

When it comes to new treatment options, there are three routes that can make a difference for patients both in the near- and mid-term: developing a new vaccine; replicating the antibodies that fight the virus; repurposing existing drugs that might be effective.

The reason for following all of these paths is that they take differing amounts of time to achieve. Developing a drug from scratch can take years while discovering that an existing approved drug is effective can be a matter of weeks. And this is critical for helping seriously ill patients as soon as possible.

Projected timeline for treatment and prevention. Source: data from The Milken Institute, which recently released a detailed tracker to monitor the progress of each of the known COVID-19 treatments and preventions currently in development.

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