Antiviral meds for coronavirus should have been developed after SARS: Dutch virologist
"We dropped the ball after the first SARS outbreak," Eric Snijder, professor of molecular virology at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), said to WNL Op Saterdag. If lessons had be learnt from that coronavirus outbreak, antiviral meds could have been ready to help with the Covid-19 outbreak, he said.
According to Snijder, one of the scientists at LUMC currently working on a vaccine against the coronavirus, antivirals are the "only approach that you can have ready in advance". Such virus inhibitors can be developed to work against the entire group of coronaviruses, he explained.
"You could block it with the same type of molecule. You generally put that type of medicine on the shelf and use it when necessary. While you can only get started on a vaccine when the exact type of virus has turned up," Snijder said.
The best example of the successful use of antiviral medicines is in the treatment of HIV, Snijder said. "About 20 to 30 of them have been developed in the past 30 years. By using a good cocktail of those inhibitors, you can keep an infection like AIDS under control."
Using antivirals for the coronavirus is even simpler, because the inhibitors only need to be taken for a month, making side effects less of an ordeal, Snijder said.