Researchers testing antiviral drug that could reduce severity of COVID-19 symptoms

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- You've heard of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu to fight the flu. Now researchers are trying to find out if a new medication can do the same with COVID-19.

For some, COVID symptoms can be very mild at first - a stuffy nose, cough or low-grade fever. But can you keep it from getting worse? Cleveland researchers are studying an antiviral drug called Upamostat.

They want to know if taking one pill a day, right away, will help.

"Like we learned with Tamiflu and flu, you know, typical antiviral effect is seen as soon as possible after the infection. So, we want people to be within three days, ideally, of having symptoms," said Grace McComsey, MD, of University Hospital Clinical Research Center in Cleveland.

Researchers are enrolling people who have symptoms or test positive for COVID. Half of the participants will get a placebo, the others will get the investigational drug to take once a day for 14 days. Patients will monitor their heart rates and oxygen levels and send that information to the researchers through a smartphone app.

"If you can give something oral and keep people home, so they're not hospitalized, they're not dying from it, I think it's a plus for health care, plus globally, for all these hospitals that were overwhelmed with COVID," McComsey said.

At this point in the trials, researchers are testing for safety and are also trying to establish an effective dose.

COVID 'long haulers': Some who first saw mild symptoms experiencing debilitating problems months later
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Many patients who initially experienced milder COVID-19 symptoms are now showing up at the doctor's office months later with debilitating problems. They're being called "long-haulers."

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