Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the recently emerged novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in vitro

Wang M, Cao R, Zhang L, et al. Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the recently emerged novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in vitro. Cell Res. 2020;30(3):269‐271. doi:10.1038/s41422-020-0282-0

Review written by:

Panagiota Apostolou, edited by Diogo Teles, MD

Red - Letter to the editor, with no peer review, with lack of the scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of remdesivir and chloroquine against COVID-19.

The article suggests the use of remdesivir and chloroquine as potential pharmaceutical treatment for COVID-19.  The authors tested seven potential drug treatments in    nCoV-2019-infected Vero E6 cells. The study presents in vitro data using 3 main conditions: i) treatment with the drugs before the virus infection, ii) treatment with the drugs before and after the virus infection and iii) treatment with the drugs after the entry of the virus in the cells. Three primarily antiviral drugs (ribavirin, penciclovir, favipiravir) were effective in high concentrations, but had a particularly small selectivity index. Nafamostat, an anticoagulant, also inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in vitro with a low selectivity index. Nitaxozanide required a low micromolar concentration to inhibit 2019-nCoV. Remdesivir and chloroquine were found to most potently block virus infection, in addition to having a high selectivity index. When looking at the time of action, remdesivir functioned at a post-viral entry stage, while chloroquine functioned at both the viral entry and post-entry stages.

Review Notes
 

1. The experiments were only performed in Vero E6 (an aneuploid, interferon-deficient monkey kidney epithelial cell line);

2. No statistical analysis of the fluorescence data that based their claim regarding time of action.

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