COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is a disease which has been spreading rapidly across the globe and causing widespread panic. COVID-19 is fatal in approximately 2% of individuals affected with the disease, which may be difficult to discern from the common cold because they share many symptoms in common, namely: runny nose, headache, fever, cough, and sore throat.
Thankfully there is a cocktail of drugs which has been confirmed as a useful treatment against this potential pandemic.
So far the most success has been had when patients are simultaneously treated with both Chloroquine and Kaletra.
Chloroquine Phosphate is known mostly as a treatment for malaria, but it has been shown to take action against other viral diseases and also treats amebiasis, a condition which develops when people eat or drink something containing the single-celled amoeba organisms. This medication is also occasionally used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, and other disorders related to the immune system. It is typically available in pill form.
Side effects of Chloroquine include headache, appetite loss, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, itchiness, rashes, hair loss, mood instability, visual disturbances, hearing difficulties, muscular weakness, tiredness, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and convulsions.
Kaletra, manufactured by AbbieVie, is an antiretroviral composed of Lopinavir and Ritonavir, typically used to treat patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Even for its originally intended use, Kaletra does not cure HIV or AIDs but it has been shown to slow the progression of the disease and prolong the lives of patients. Kaletra may be delivered as either a pill or an oral solution. It is listed on the World Health Organization’s website among the list of essential medicines.
Known side effects of Kaletra may be serious and include diarrhea, high blood sugar, diabetes, pancreatitis, increased bleeding, liver problems, sleepiness, immune reconstitution syndrome, nausea, vomiting, changes in body fat, increased cholesterol, severe skin rashes, and changes in the rhythm or electrical activity of the heart. In some cases, especially when there is an interaction with other medications, the side effects of Kaletra may be fatal.
It is still too early to know exactly what the long-term results of combining Chloroquine and Kaletra together may be. What is known is that children are especially susceptible to chloroquine overdose and the alcohol content of Kaletra’s oral solution can have strong negative affects on minors, though in the midst of this epidemic it is sometimes necessary to make difficult choices in order to give patients the best possible chance of making a full recovery. It is advised that women do not breastfeed while taking either medication.
Existing supplies are limited (particularly in certain areas) which could potentially pose a problem depending on how many people contract COVID-19 in the near future. Some countries have even prohibited exports of these medications. For the time being, drug companies should work on manufacturing Chloroquine and Kaletra to ensure that there is a large enough supply to treat patients suffering from Coronavirus.