University of Washington double-study looking at answers for COVID-19

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SEATTLE -- The race is on for researchers to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Until that vaccine is developed, scientists at the University of Washington's School of Medicine are looking into treatments to fight it.

Two studies are underway that are being led by Dr. Helen Chu, an infectious disease expert and researcher at university.

The first study will research the effects of an experimental drug called Remdesivir.

"It’s an experimental antiviral that has been used in the past for other viral infections. It has no known specific action against Coronavirus, or COVID-19. But it’s been tried in China and now we’re doing the clinical trial here in the US to see if it may help," said Chu.

Remdesivir is a drug developed by Gilead Sciences in the Bay Area. It was first used a possible treatment for Ebola, however, researchers discovered that it showed a more promising treatment for SARS and MERS.

"The goal of the Remdesivir trial is really to understand whether something that’s currently available can be used to treat people with COVID- 19," she said.

For the second study, Chu is enrolling adults who were diagnosed as positive for COVID-19 in a lab-confirmed test.  Those that are selected will provide a sample for researchers to examine. According to Chu, they are looking at the immune response of those who recovered well to COVID-19, and comparing it to those who didn't. This date will prove valuable to possible vaccines.

"We think it takes a lot longer for people to mount a protective immune response to it but that study hasn’t been done yet.  So we’re looking at comparing those who do well and those who don’t do well and seeing if there are differences in their antibody response," she said.

The clinical trials are expected to take months.

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