PerspectiveViewpoint: COVID-19

Rapid repurposing of drugs for COVID-19

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Science  22 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6493, pp. 829-830
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb9332


In late fall 2019, a novel acute respiratory disease, called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged in Wuhan, China. COVID-19 is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (1, 2). COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and continues to spread across the globe. Most patients recover within 1 to 3 weeks. However, a small proportion (∼5%) develop severe illness that can progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can lead to death. Currently, only supportive care is available; patients would greatly benefit from the availability of direct therapeutic approaches. One approach to identifying therapeutics is to repurpose approved drugs developed for other uses, which takes advantage of existing detailed information on human pharmacology and toxicology to enable rapid clinical trials and regulatory review.

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