Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Potential Breakthrough in COVID-19 Battle Raises Global Hopes

Potential Breakthrough in COVID-19 Battle Raises Global Hopes

Thursday, 30 April, 2020 - 06:30
Suzanne Valette, an 88-year-old infected with COVID-19, talks to her son through plexiglass at the Buissonets retirement home in Horion-Hozemont, Belgium. AFP

US scientists revealed a potential breakthrough in the fight against the novel coronavirus after a trial showed patients responding to an antiviral drug.

The successful trails have raised global hopes for a return to normal despite mounting deaths and abysmal economic figures.

A clinical trial of the drug remdesivir showed that patients recovered about 30 percent faster than those on a placebo, in the first proof of successful treatment against the new disease.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Anthony Fauci, the top US epidemiologist who oversaw the study, told reporters.

Fauci likened the finding to the first retrovirals that worked, albeit with modest success, against HIV in the 1980s, AFP reported.

Remdesivir failed in trials against the Ebola virus and a smaller study, released last week by the World Health Organization, found limited effects among patients in Wuhan, China, where the illness was first detected in December.

Senior WHO official Michael Ryan declined to weigh in on the latest findings, saying he had not reviewed the complete study.

"We are all hoping -- fervently hoping -- that one or more of the treatments currently under observation and under trial will result in altering clinical outcomes" and reducing deaths, he said.

Notably, this came as WHO's emergency committee was due to meet Thursday for the first time in three months to discuss the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than 226,000 lives worldwide.

COVID-19 has also affected world air traffic which suffered a massive drop of more than half in March compared with the same period last year -- the "largest decline in recent history," the International Air Transport Association said.

US plane-builder Boeing announced plans to reduce its workforce by 10 percent and slash production while European giant Airbus also reported big losses.

An unprecedented drop in demand for fossil fuels means the pandemic is expected to cause global energy emissions to fall a record eight percent this year, the International Energy Agency warned Thursday.

Meanwhile, as the world keeps looking for signs of progress against the pandemic, research is also revealing frightening new details about COVID-19.

According to AFP, Britain and France have both warned of a possible coronavirus-related syndrome emerging in children -- including abdominal pain and inflammation around the heart.

"I am taking this very seriously. We have absolutely no medical explanation at this stage," French Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

Experts have also warned of longer-term psychological tolls on both children and adults after weeks or even months in isolation.

Editor Picks