The race for a COVID-19 treatment

ABC News’ Eva Pilgrim reports on the scientists working around the clock to identify drugs that could slow down the virus.
8:51 | 05/01/20

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Transcript for The race for a COVID-19 treatment
New month new beginnings and hope for many is that with the turn of the calendar page perhaps the worst is behind us but. In some places it's still too soon to tell now that April 20/20 has ended. Many stay at home orders have also ended is more than a dozen states open back up. Uncertainty looms the other is promising news in the race to find a treatment from cove in nineteen tonight the FDA announced it is approved for Endesa here for emergency use. After preliminary results from one study showed the drug shortened recovery time I 31%. Some scientists believe it will take a drug cocktail to treat the virus the researchers we first told you about back in March to map the virus. Now have their first results even pilgrim leads us off. With what they've found. The rush to find a remedy scientists and labs around the world looking and every option leaving no possible existing treatment and charged. There are a lot of people in last. Walk to work with our CNN positive. The best and brightest minds and suiting up to work with the live virus in Southern California to scientists handling cove in nineteen. Every day I mean and I can't make things they cannot come these pills and searching for a way to slow it stop it and make it go away. You just try to plot was on watch you're doing and try to do it this process possible to spend the least amount of time that. A lot of scientists are looking for drugs to attack the virus the problem with doing that as you often get resistance the virus can mutate very quickly Nevin broken at the quantitative biosciences institute is taking a different approach focusing not on the virus. On us. It's trying to understand how the fires comes in and attacks are proteins. And then trying to find rugs are compounds that inhibit those human proteins. That the fires these in order to infect ourselves. Grogan NATO road map of the viruses attack he's collaborated with scientists from San Francisco to New York to peiris. They followed the virus to find which of our more than 20000 proteins it in Iraq swift. They found a bell forty. That they made a list of the existing drugs that interact with those protein. That list about sixty now narrowed down. And we recovered. True some drugs and compounds that we're very very excited about the first group targets how the body makes the proteins lien meaning they say they found two promising options both intended to treat multiple myeloma. Wine is FDA approved the other in clinical trial right now. The second group focuses on two protein receptor sites the virus appears to heavily rely on it didn't affect us. It's really exciting about interceptors because there Jerry struggle. And there's a number of drugs that are known to buy into these shelters in the laboratory setting these old display. Anti viral activity. They also say they found something that made them take pause extra met the Fiat a comment over the counter cold dead. Appeared to help the virus at least in the lab settings making it stronger. It actually increases the virus in the laboratory setting and of course ducks were torture and is in the vast majority of cough suppressants that are out there. But again just to emphasize more studies are needed more studies are needed in in people to determine if this is actually detrimental. His findings published in the journal nature this week. He says he thinks it's likely going to be a cocktail approach multiple different drugs targeting different aspects that will be the best treatment. You know it's a double hit the virus. In it and we're very excited to vote either a couple of our drugs. Working in combination are combining our drugs or some other drugs like from to severe I really think that's gonna eat potentially the silver bullet in the future. Croak in and the other scientists he's working women now testing those multiple myeloma drugs in combination with drugs like Rem density or. That target the virus that no by the FDA late today authorizing emergency use Sendy Rleal that reverend Jesse DO will pave the way to make it available to hospitalized patients. Will be working with the government is to determine how best to and distributed to ask them with the United States because their patients there. That can benefit from this medicine today that are hospitalized and we don't want any time the race for the. They were able to. We get off yachts jet got off to Reuters. A lead to hospital. Chests are about forty's yes it appears to have patience but yeah effort that patients received placebo. His forty's or you know very important regardless. You know. Forty's let's hospital four days last and I mechanic and later forty's let's receive oxygen are something I really can benefit. All our vision to delete doctor and the red destined your clinical trial talking to ABC's Keira Phillips. Will this lead to other treatments. You know be opens the doors that Franken now we are seeing a mitigation bear as this article for you know mechanism to our spot the year you know the -- application. It you lose the hope debt that we can actually you know find our rights there are. Inherit seamer effect or even better reflect our ambassador it's an approach that scientists learned from the decades long fight with HIV aids. In the case of HIV. What we discovered we started with AZT back in the eighties. It was a pretty good drug for people. Who were looking for a bridge to the next wave of drugs but it wasn't sufficient. To do the work now we have drugs like in agrees inhibitors that suppress the virus much much more effectively than AZT ever thought about. Doctor Michael sag is the director of the center for aids research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has studied aides for decades and he knows all too well what corona virus can do to the body. By the morning I felt good again and I thought okay I'm don't what this. Only afford three term with a vengeance the next night and the next night and the next night. And that Groundhog Day experience. Is what. Makes as far as such a monster because it teases us to think okay were over and then boom it's right back. Now recovered from code at nineteen he's rooting for the doesn't efforts worldwide to find a treatment that works. It just seems like scientists are approaching this from so many different angles and how. The virus works how our bodies were yeah what the virus needs in our bodies to function and. We got on all hands on deck let's attacked this like the Manhattan Project. On steroids then that's kind of what we're doing right now and I think it's. Really remarkable. Love how far we've come as such a short period of time we just can't take our foot off the accelerator we got to go to war. Who's shown how fast we can move. When people work together and hopefully he's let us and and we will not let this community. Even pilgrim joins us now from New York even as a true Endesa beer is being made available and who can receive this treatment right now. Holiday event is doing needing about one point five million vials of the drug to the federal government to be distributed to the patients. Who are in need that emergency FDA authorization means that they can given to patients who are hospitalized. In severe conditions Lindsay and even until widespread treatment is available many believe the testing is the key to reopening that not all tests are created equal and in many antibody test work required to gain FDA approval. And now there are questions about how reliable they are. Yeah that's right there's a lot of confusion around these antibody testing is today there's about ten of them have the FDA emergency authorization. And there are hundreds of them out there are many of them being used little known fact you don't actually have to have. The emergency authorization to begin testing and so there's questions about how reliable some of these tests are the other big question a lot of people have. His what do you do with the information. When you get it there's not clear guidance as to. What to do with that information I was talking to a doctor in Massachusetts today said that. State department of health there is telling people that if you haven't had a positive Tobin says and you get a positive antibody test that you should quarantine. So they're written it's it's causing some real issues as to what to do next are looking for guidance from these federal agencies but they have not gotten that yet a lot of people. Unsure about what to do with those tests when. Yes still seeking clarity Gary in the pilgrim for us in New York thanks Eva.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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