We have witnessed two anti-parasitic drugs promoted for treating Covid-19, Hydroxychloroquine and Invermectin. There is research to repurpose drugs to treat Covid-19. So far only dexamethasone, an anti inflammatory medication to reduce the bodies immune response after an infection with Covid-19, has cut mortality. Timing and dosage is of extreme importance for dexamethasone. Given too early will harm the patient. Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug, can make Covid-19 less severe but does not reduce mortality. Remdesivir has been approved for Covid-19 treatment in several countries.
The issue for treating viral infections, is that by the time symptoms appear, you have produced and shed billions of viruses. The only viral diseases that have a therapeutic medication approved for their treatment is AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Herpes, and Influenza A and B. Dexamethasone treats the bodies response to covid-19, not the virus itself. Remdesivir is an anti-viral that is effective in laboratory cells treated with Covid-19, but by the time symptoms appear in patients, it is given too late to reduce mortality, but does reduce the severeness of the disease. It is important to give anti-viral medications when symptoms first appear. Thus any therapeutic for treating Covid-19 or flu is given well after the virus has reproduced. This pretty well defeats the notion that a therapeutic anti-viral medication is the best strategy for dealing with a virus.
There are 9 anti-parasitic drugs, 7 of which in lab settings have some anti-viral effects. There is a push to find medications that can be repurposed to fight viral infections. Existing anti-viral medications in various combinations are the most promising. With any therapeutic for viral infection, the issue is being administered too late as symptoms appear far after the virus has reproduced a billion times. This means like Remdesivir, it will be difficult to reduce mortality from Covid-19 with a therapeutic. I watched a 90 minute podcast of a virologist who spent 17 years infecting respiratory cell cultures with coronal virus and then treating them with anti-viral agents. There were few products that he tested that killed viruses without killing lung cells. Remdesivir was the best.
Treating viruses is far different than treating bacterial infections. With bacteria you are either killing the bacteria or preventing its growth. Viruses use the bodies machinery to reproduce. One way to control viruses is to stop the virus from entering the cell, a second way is to prevent the cells machinery from reproducing the virus. Developing an anti-viral that keeps the cell healthy but stops it from reproducing the virus is the challenge researchers face. Medication, like anti-parasitic drugs, given in concentration high enough to kill viruses are usually toxic to humans. Scientist are concentrating efforts on early treatment by testing a combination of existing anti-viral drugs given when symptoms first appear.
The Holy Grail, for the anti-parasitic drug folks, is some combination of low non-toxic doses of more than one anti-parasitic or an anti-parasitic combined with a low does of another anti-viral compound that is not toxic to respiratory cells. This is sort of making a witches brew. Making a witches brew should be researched as long as the limits of anti-viral therapy is understood. So far studies of anti-parasitic medications as a viral therapeutic have shown mixed results with some studies showing benefits, while other studies do not show any benefit.
The whole emphasis on treating Covid-19 after the infection starts seems sort of like building 40 fire stations to put out fires instead of building one fire station as a backup to fire prevention in our city. Vaccines and strict masking are still the gold standard in dealing with viral infections. The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure needs to be updated for a viral pandemic to a ounce of cure is worth a ton of cure.
I support ongoing research into all avenues of anti-viral therapeutics. World wide there are scientists that look at medications that are given to treat a wide variety of conditions to see if there is a reduced incidence of another condition when patients are on that medication. If scientist find similar results from a thousand patients or more, they will ask the group their opinion about doing further research. Scientist may also ask if there are any researchers willing to study these findings. Hundreds of scientist are looking at data to find the next medical holy grail for treating medical conditions. The chance for a break through medication being found this way is low, but not zero. Viragra was being tested for other medical conditions.