Elderly man ‘cured’ from virus: report
There are hopes that an experimental drug initially designed to treat ebola could cure patients of coronavirus, after a 79-year-old Italian man who had tested positive to COVID-19 was given the all-clear following treatment.
The man was cleared on Tuesday, the President of Italy's Liguria region Giovanni Toti said, after taking the drug remdesivir.
Mr Toti described it as the "first real case of coronavirus cured", according to The Telegraph.
Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral developed by US drug firm Gilead was originally designed to treat ebola in a Scottish nurse when she suffered a relapse 18 months after being cleared of the disease, contracted while volunteering in Sierra Leone.
Now, the drug is being tested in five coronavirus clinical trials - including by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) on 13 patients who were hospitalised after contracting coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
While it's far from a confirmed cure, it raises hope that drugs can eventually be used to treat the coronavirus - which has now infected close to a quarter of a million people around the world. The virus outbreak in Italy has now become the world's deadliest, killing more than 3400 people.
Redemsivir also showed success in the treatment of monkeys infected with MERs, a different type of coronavirus.
Around the globe, medical experts are racing to find a cure for COVID-19.
In the US, clinical trials on a vaccine have begun, with President Donald Trump announcing on Friday that two drugs could be a "game changer" in treating coronavirus and will be made available "almost immediately" by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
During a briefing with the coronavirus taskforce at the White House, the US President said the antimalarial drugs - hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine - would soon be available for "prescribed use".
"It's been around for a long time, so we know if things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody," he said, adding that the early results had been "encouraging".
"We have to remove every barrier or a lot of barriers that were unnecessary and they've done that to get the rapid deployment of safe, effective treatments and we think we have some good answers.
"This could be a tremendous breakthrough."
FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told reporters he had "great hope for how we are going to come out of this situation".
"What's important is not to provide falsehood, but provide hope," he said.
Closer to home, in Queensland researchers believe they're close - if not already there - to finding a cure, and are now chasing funding to begin clinical trials.
University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research director Professor David Paterson told news.com.au they have seen two drugs used to treat other conditions wipe out the virus in test tubes.
He said one of the medications, given to some of the first people to test positive for COVID-19 in Australia, had already resulted in "disappearance of the virus" and complete recovery from the infection.
Prof Paterson, who is also an infectious disease physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, said it wasn't a stretch to label the drugs "a treatment or a cure".
"It's a potentially effective treatment," he said.
"Patients would end up with no viable coronavirus in their system at all after the end of therapy."
Originally published as Elderly man 'cured' from virus