So far, there is no treatment for severe cases – but now, clinical trials for a new COVID treatment show immense promise in preventing death
Despite the existence of vaccines, the virus continues to hit people with heavy consequences – from a stay in ICU, to the most devastating outcome. For some individuals with comorbidities like diabetes or existing immunocompromised systems, the virus can lead to severe illness.
No current treatment for severe, hospitalised cases of COVID
Drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone can be used to reduce hospital stays. In one study, remdesivir was found to reduce the need for mechanical ventilation when the patient was already in hospital.
However, there is no definitive treatment for COVID itself.
While vaccines can create antibodies to prevent severe infection, and drugs can lessen the likelihood of organ inflammation, no existing treatment can actually stop or disarm the virus.
In an exciting moment for global public health, a new COVID treatment appears to be the drug that will break this pattern. Sabizabulin, created by Veru Pharma, has even been paused at Phase 3 of clinical trials on hospitalised COVID patients – for performing conclusively well.
Veru Pharma mainly creates novel medicines for breast and prostrate cancers.
The company says there are no safety concerns at the moment, but the information is still waiting for peer review.
Sabizabulin reduced deaths by 55%, showing clear efficacy
The trial, conducted across the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, and Bulgaria, focused on patients hospitalised with the Delta and Omicron variants. There were 150 patients in the study, with half given sabizabulin and the other half remaining on placebo.
Both groups were allowed what is considered standard COVID care, like access to remdesivir, dexamethasone, anti-IL6 receptor antibodies, and JAK inhibitors. The new COVID treatment, Sabizabulin, reduced deaths at the day 60 point by an immense 55%. The placebo group had a mortality rate of 45%, while the treatment group had a 20% mortality rate.
New COVID treatment appears to work on both Delta and Omicron
So far, the new COVID treatment also appears to work on different COVID variants. The World Health Organisation highlight that more variants are expected, as the virus continues to be globally dominant. This suggests that any treatments going to trial need to be capable of handling multiple variants with equal efficacy, otherwise novel treatments risk taking up significant time and energy, just to become redundant when variants emerge.
Dr Gary Barnette, Chief Scientific Officer at Veru, says that the treatment may be “made available soon” in anticipation of the “next clinically important wave” of the virus.
FDA could give Emergency Use Authorisation, if analysis continues to be strong
Dr Alan Skolnick, Principal Investigator with HD Research, who conducted this Phase 3 COVID-19 study at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center in Houston, Texas, said: “We have battled this pandemic for almost two and a half years now. A 55% reduction in deaths in hospitalized patients is tremendously meaningful to patients, their families, doctors, nurses, hospital staff and the communities they serve.”
Veru Pharma will meet with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to push for a pathway to Emergency Use Authorisation. The FDA gave the company Fast Track designation in January 2022, allowing sabizabulin to go to clinical trial.