Expert: There's hope for a new coronavirus medication

Mait Altmets.
Mait Altmets. Source: ERR

North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) senior doctor Mait Altmets discussed medications used against the coronavirus and myths surrounding them on ETV daily show "Ringvaade" on Monday evening. He said that there is hope to start using a new medication soon.

The U.S. pharmaceutical company Merck has been testing a medication called Molnupiravir, which is currently undergoing testing in the European Medicines Agency, the show reported.

Altmets said that he has not seen the final assessment, but according to the information known to the public, the medication has quickly helped patients who have been treated with it.

"There is hope," Altmets answered a question of whether this medication will be introduced soon.

"I know there's a joint procurement in Europe and Estonia is definitely a participant in it so when the medication arrives, we can use it on Estonians," he said.

"But it's something we can use on everybody, it will be for the people with a difficult course of the virus. The reason being we don't have unlimited sources of this medication because the price is estimated to be around €500-600 per one treatment course. We will definitely not be able to offer it to everybody," the doctor said.

Lately, ivermectin has been discussed a lot as a possible treatment for the coronavirus. However, Altmets does not agree.

"It's a medication that is used on people and animals, but for treating parasites, not the coronavirus," he said.

"This is rather the last option when other medications don't help. Or if a person has been infected with a tropical infection, then we can use it," Altmets said.

He said that the myth of Ivermectin being a possible treatment for the coronavirus stems from a study where it was found to have an antiviral effect in a test tube.

Altmets said that there is no such study, which proves Ivermectin's positive effect against the coronavirus.

He said that in PERH, Ivermectin has only been used against parasites.

"When I bring an example that at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, we were using Plaquenil [a malaria drug] in hospitals, it was in Estonia's treatment guide, but when we realized it wasn't working, we stopped using it. And the same goes for Ivermectin. Studies have not shown that it helps and we will not start using it."

Remdesivir is used in hospitals to treat Covid. "It is an antiviral drug that we actually use in Estonia to treat coronavirus patients. But its downside is that we cannot use it outside the hospital because it can be used intravenously. And its effectiveness is limited by the fact that we cannot get people to hospitals soon enough," Altmets said.

He said that Remdesivir reduces the patient's hospital stay by about a third. Unfortunately, this does not significantly reduce the number of deaths, as treatment can only be started when people arrive at the hospital and it may be too late.

In addition, a monoclonal antibody is currently used to treat the coronavirus.

"It's a similar antibody that comes from being sick or vaccinated, but we give it to a person who is infected and we know they don't have immunity or are at very high risk, for example, they're very likely to die from the virus," Altmets said.

Altmetsa said that vitamin D doesn't help to treat the virus, but vitamins can help prevent the more serious course of the disease.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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