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Tracking the development of coronavirus treatments

From repurposed medications to new vaccines, NBC News compiled a list of treatments to combat the coronavirus and where they are in development.
Image: Researchers set up new labs to help fight coronavirus at the University of Minnesota
Researchers at the Microbiology Research Facility work with coronavirus samples as a trial begins to see whether the malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on March 19, 2020.Craig Lassig / Reuters

The race to stop the fast-spreading coronavirus is on. It’s going to be a long road to safe and effective treatment, but pharmaceutical companies and research facilities are exploring a variety of therapeutics to find a way to combat the virus.

Pharmaceutical companies are studying drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration to see if any might work in fighting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Simultaneously, companies are in the process of developing vaccines for the virus that can be deployed to protect the uninfected population.

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Repurposed drugs could be a faster route to an effective treatment, but they would still need to go through clinical testing to ensure their effectiveness. Malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and Ebola antiviral remdesivir are being tested in small batches of infected patients. Even with promising results, it’s unclear at this time whether any of these treatments will be successful in the larger population.

A vaccine tailored to combat the virus is the long-term solution. But according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the earliest a coronavirus vaccine would be deployable would be a year to 18 months from now. Any vaccine would have to go through three phases of clinical trials and then apply for approval by the FDA.

Johnson & Johnson in a partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals identified a lead vaccine candidate. They expect to initiate human clinical trials by September and the first batches could be available for emergency use in 2021.

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NBC News compiled a list of some of the potential treatments and where they stand in development. This work is ongoing and will be updated as time goes on and more pharmaceutical companies jump in to do their part to find a way to combat the virus.