With coronavirus cases around the world now at over 16 million, scientists have been working around the clock to develop a treatment.
Now, a new study suggests that an arthritis drug could be the breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for.
Researchers from Imperial College London say that a drug called tocilizumab could treat Covid-19 by halting the immune system ‘storm’ that the body produces in response to infection.
The drug is being tested on 450 coronavirus patients around the world.
Dr Levi Garraway, Chief Medical Officer at Roche, which makes the drug, said: “As more information about COVID-19 pneumonia becomes available in these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to work together to fight this disease.
“Based on our current understanding, we believe that combining an antiviral with an immune modulator could potentially be an effective approach to treating patients with severe disease.”
Tocilizumab was originally developed as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and stops the immune system from over-responding and attacking the body.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dr Taryn Youngstein, who worked on the trial, said: “It’s very clear that the major form of Covid that kills people is related to... the body’s response to the virus – rather than the virus itself.
"We need to think about how we can suppress this response.
“We are very familiar with the drug. We know it’s very safe and very well-tolerated. The question is whether it works in Covid-19.”
The trial results are expected this week.