“There are only three drugs, the rest is PR”: an infectious disease specialist from Russia finds what will save from coronavirus

These drugs are used to treat multiple sclerosis, HIV infection and hepatitis C. “The logic here is this: in the outbreak of SARS, which was also caused by the coronavirus, Ribavirin was used. Then it worked, maybe it will work now. ” Mark Aganin, Infectious Disease Center.

In fact, we can treat the disease using any antiviral agents, but no one will tell you if this will be the result. As for the other drugs that are currently being advertised, this is just advertising. To say that they can’t be used, I can’t. But I think that you should not expect any effect from them, except for the placebo effect.
- That is, in the case of 2019-nCoV, you can use the same drugs as for the treatment of diseases caused by the MERS and SARS viruses? - Theoretically, yes. Here you can draw an analogy with other infections. For example, HIV infection has several varieties (HIV-1, HIV-2), but the treatment is the same everywhere. Hepatitis C has six varieties in general, and inside there are several more. But here, the treatment will be similar. It is possible that in the case of coronavirus the situation is the same and we should not treat it specifically for 2019-nCoV. 
“The problem is that not a single antiviral drug with proven effectiveness is anyway” The difficulty is that the coronavirus mutates. Initially, these were viruses that caused diseases in animals, but then they changed their properties, and people also became susceptible to this disease. Moreover, it is still unknown why the mutation occurred. We just came across such a fact.
- In the Urals, they make T Riazavirin. How effective is it ? - I think that there will be no effect from Triazavirin. The drug does not have sufficient evidence in terms of its effectiveness. Maybe he will act, or maybe not. In any case, he was not included in the list of official recommendations of the Ministry of Health.
- How long does it take to get an effective drug for treating coronavirus? - It takes at least 10 years to test one drug, during which we can prove its effectiveness and safety. Clinical trials should be conducted, after which the results need to be processed. What is happening now, when people are already trying to treat Chinese coronavirus with certain drugs, has nothing to do with such studies. Here we can only talk about the application experience, which can be positive or negative.
- And to create a vaccine from 2019-nCoV?
- We know very little about the new coronavirus, including because now the Chinese side is not very willing to share information. Although it is usually accepted in the scientific world to share, especially when it comes to socially significant information, as it is now. Maybe this happens for ideological reasons or for some other reason, I don’t know. For example, we do not know what happens to the immune response of a person who has had this virus. Maybe it does not remain at all? Therefore, even if we create a vaccine, we will not know whether it will work. To do this, we need to conduct clinical studies. It also takes at least a few years.
- What can be done now to stop the spread of the virus?
- Only quarantine measures that are already being introduced by China and Russia can stop the spread of infection. The usual epidemiological measures will help: avoid contact with already sick people, often ventilate the room to reduce the virus content in dust, and observe personal hygiene measures. If there are symptoms of SARS, you need to change the mask every two hours. Attempts to treat drugs can also be used, but keep in mind that they may not work.
- Amid the hype surrounding the Chinese coronavirus, pharmacies raised the price of medical masks. Should we expect that soon they will become scarce goods?
- Probably worth it. But wearing masks to healthy people, so as not to get sick, is not necessary, because it is usually ineffective. This is not what I came up with, this is a well-known fact. The fact is that masks do not protect very much, because the eyes remain open, and this is another entrance way for the virus, an excellent landing site for it. Therefore, I do not wear a mask and do not see the need for it. Doing this is worth the people who already have the first symptoms of a cold.