The World Health Organization said Tuesday that some treatments appear to limit the severity or duration of COVID-19 disease, referring to the results of previous studies with four or five treatments.
The Geneva-based WHO is leading a global initiative to develop safe and effective vaccines, tests and medications for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19. According to a Reuters balance sheet, respiratory disease has infected 4.29 million people worldwide.
"We have some treatments that appear to be in very early studies to limit the severity or duration of the disease, but we have nothing that could kill or stop the virus," spokeswoman Margaret Harris said in a briefing.
"We have potentially positive data, but we need to see more data to be 100% sure that we can say this treatment about it," she added, saying that more research is needed and planned.
Harris didn't name the treatments. She later said that she referred to early results from four or five treatments that were already publicly available and not to the WHO solidarity study, which had a broader scope, but the results of which were not yet available.
According to Gilead Science Inc, the antiviral drug Remdesivir has helped improve results for COVID-19 patients.
Clinical data on Remdesivir published last month raised hopes that it could be an effective treatment. Several studies dealing with combinations of antiviral drugs have also indicated that they can help patients fight the virus.
The results of a study published in Hong Kong earlier this month showed that a triple combination of antiviral drugs helped relieve symptoms in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection and rapidly reduced the amount of virus in their bodies.
The study, which included 127 patients, compared those who received the combination drug, which consisted of the HIV drug lopinavir ritonavir, the hepatitis drug Ribavirin, and the multiple sclerosis drug Interferon Beta, with a control group that only the HIV drug was administered.
Malaria treatment, which US President Donald Trump advocated as a "game changer" in the fight against coronavirus, again showed no benefit in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19. This was the result of a study this month.
While the study had certain limitations, doctors reported that the use of hydroxycholoquine did not reduce the need for patients who need breathing assistance, nor did it reduce the risk of death.
In Geneva, the WHO official was cautious about vaccine expectations and said coronavirus is generally a "very tricky virus" against which "vaccines are difficult to produce".
More than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including several in clinical trials. The WHO said in April that a vaccine would last at least 12 months.
Harris said that America was the current "center" of the pandemic, although it also saw increasing cases in Africa. However, she said the continent had a "big advantage" over other countries with little experience of infectious disease outbreaks.
"They often have a very good contact tracking infrastructure and deep, deep, deep memory and understanding of why we take a new pathogen very, very seriously," she said, highlighting South Africa for its effective testing and contact tracking.
When asked about the reasons for the high case burden in the United States and Brazil, Harris said: "All over the world, we have seen that the warnings that we issued very, very early on from the start were not seen as warnings of one very much serious, deadly disease. "
She reaffirmed that the WHO, which was particularly criticized by the United States for dealing with the pandemic, would conduct a review that would include a "free and open" discussion of its performance.
US President Donald Trump is working to quickly reopen the economy, contrary to health experts' recommendations, to use caution to avoid recurrence of the virus, which has killed more than 82,000 people in the U.S., the highest death toll worldwide. He said he acted early to prevent the spread of the disease.
Brazil has registered a total of 177,589 confirmed cases of the virus and 12,400 deaths, the deadliest outbreak in an emerging market nation.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)