This is an update on coronavirus cure and an explanation of the vital role that marijuana can play in relieving the associated anxiety that is currently at unprecedented levels globally. It is important to state here that so far, there is no definitive cure for coronavirus (COVID-19). However, several drugs are being tested to prove their efficacy and safety profile to this end.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a group of viruses that cause respiratory tract illnesses. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) is one example of well-known coronaviruses.
The novel coronavirus disease which is also known as (COVID- 19) is a new strain of coronavirus that was discovered at the end of 2019, in Wuhan city in China. What was considered an outbreak at first has quickly evolved into a global pandemic whose full potential is yet to be realized. As of this date, there have been half a million confirmed cases of coronavirus with a fatality rate of 4%.
What Are The Symptoms of Coronavirus? Truth versus Myths
There is a lot of information in circulation about the symptoms of coronavirus.
Here is the truth
We don’t have the full picture of how the novel coronavirus disease can present. This is because patients present with different symptoms of the respiratory tract.
High unrelenting fevers seem to be present in most patients who have tested positive for coronavirus. Other common symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Breathing difficulties
- Shortness of breath
In acute cases, patients might present with the following symptoms:
- Acute pneumonia
- Acute respiratory syndrome
- Kidney failure
Coronavirus disease is zoonotic (transmitted between humans and animals) and highly contagious. So far over 150 countries have been affected with 64% of the reported cases being outside China.
An Update on Cure for Coronavirus
Different pharmaceuticals around the world are working tirelessly to combat the coronavirus disease. There are two approaches that a pharmaceutical can take: developing a vaccine to prevet the disease or develoing an antiretroviral therapy to cure the disease.
Here are a few of the drugs under investigation.
1. Remdesivir from Gilead Sciences
Remdesivir is in the final phase of the trial as a potential cure for the coronavirus disease. Gilead pharmaceuticals are behind this drug which was first tested on Ebola but failed. This drug is given through the veins and could potentially reverse the viral infection when given in multiple doses. This drug is currently being tested on 761 patients in China in two phases of III randomized clinical trials. There is one reported case in the US where Remdesivir appeared to reduce the clinical outcome of a coronavirus patient.
2. Actemra from Roche
Actemra can be used to reduce autoimmune reactions which are responsible for the organ failure that has been experienced by some coronavirus patients. This drug is under trial in China and should be complete by May.
3. Galidesivir from Biocryst
Galidesivir is an antiretroviral drug that has broadspectrum activity against coronaviruses. It has been used with some degree of effectiveness to treat cases of the deadly Ebola virus and Yellow Fever.
Other companies that are working to develop vaccines and cures for coronavirus include:
- Ascletis Pharma
Approach: Antiviral therapy
- Moderna Therapeutics
- CanSino Biologics
- Arcturus Therapeutics
- Eli Lilly
Approach: Antibody treatment
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals
- Johnson & Johnson
Approach: Vaccine and antiviral
Approach: Vaccine and symptom management
Approach: Antibody treatment
- Vir Biotechnology
HIV drugs for coronavirus treatment
Lopinavir which is one of the commonly used drugs to treat HIV is being investigated for its potential to treat coronavirus. Lopinavir is a protease inhibitor and is marketed under the trade name Kaletra (Lopinavir/ Ritonavir). It was also used as a treatment option during the 2013 SARS outbreak where it helped to reduce mortality rates.
What is the Role of Marijuana in Treating Novel Coronavirus?
So far, no studies are being carried out to investigate marijuana as a potential cure for the coronavirus disease. That said, marijuana dispensaries have received an overwhelming response since the COVID-19 breakout.
Even as other businesses come to a halt due to the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s business-as-usual for marijuana dispensaries. On Monday this week, marijuana sales in California shot up by a staggering 159%. Marijuana dispensaries across the globe have equally reported longer queues.
Why are people buying more marijuana?
The coronavirus pandemic has caused paralyzing fear across the globe. People are not just worried about contracting the virus but they are equally as worried about the economic impact of this pandemic. This includes pay cuts, job losses, and loss of business revenues. Research has shown that marijuana is effective in relieving stress, anxiety and depression.
A 2012 study showed that marijuana can be used to treat anxiety by influencing endocannabinoid signaling. Another study that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology this year corroborated this finding.
With no definitive cure for the highly contagious coronavirus and the economic uncertainty that comes with this, people will likely turn to marijuana to help them get through this period.
Marijuana has many potential therapeutic uses including pain management and anti-cancer benefits. In this case, it appears that people are turning to marijuana to seek relief from the heightened anxiety.
Will marijuana play a critical role in helping people get through this period of COVID-19?
Marijuana may not offer a cure for the novel coronavirus disease. However, it has the potential to help the rest navigate through this period.