Remdesivir, colchicine …: where are the anti-Covid treatments in Belgium?

Colchicine, remdesivir, hydroxychlorquin … At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the development of a vaccine was still difficult to envisage, many researchers looked at drugs that could help fight the virus. Over the course of clinical trials and studies of all kinds, no therapeutic treatment has really stood out and has emerged as a “miracle cure” in the face of the dangers of the coronavirus.

Several months later, when three different types of vaccines are administered in Belgium, where are we in the race for treatment?

“We must be clear: there is no magic bullet currently against the Covid. Apart from vaccination, we have no real therapeutic solutions”, recalled Yves Van Laethem during the press conference on Tuesday morning.

However, the expert underlines two avenues that can be considered and, ultimately, have positive effects: immunotherapy and antivirals.


Immunotherapy, already used in France and Germany, consists of introducing antibodies against the coronavirus into the patient. Concretely, the antibodies are administered intravenously, subcutaneously or even intramuscularly in individuals who are particularly fragile or at risk. According to Yves Van Laethem, this treatment can be effective at the beginning of the pathology, when the virus begins to settle in the body. “When we exceed the 7 to 10 days of infection, the antibodies do not have much effect. But very early, when the activity of the virus is still present, blocking it by these antibodies can then have an impact. “, details the interfederal spokesperson.
However, this form of treatment has drawbacks: it is quite complex, since it requires an injection, but it also has a significant cost.


The other solution proposed by Yves Van Laethem is to resort to antivirals, that is to say active substances which make it possible to effectively block the pathology at an early stage. In general, science is not yet at the forefront of antivirals: indeed, only hepatitis C currently has a really effective drug, but for other types of virus like HIV, no miracle antiviral has. so far been developed.

As part of Covid-19, several drugs are being developed by pharmaceutical companies, but are not yet available. According to Yves Van Laethem, these antivirals would make it possible to have a better effectiveness than the only antiviral currently approved against Covid-19, namely remdesivir, whose contribution is known to be marginal to say the least.

The development of other effective antivirals is therefore probable in the long term, but these require significant financial and logistical resources as well as additional studies before being approved. “We had hoped for a solution with colchicine, for example, but the study has still not been published and we are currently in the process of waiting”, deplores Yves Van Laethem.

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