Last Updated: Feb 10, 2023

The stash of COVID-19 treatments in the United States has withered as new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have surfaced and swept the efficacy of each drug over the last year. At present, many patients are being treated with a single available treatment known as Paxlovid. Although it is considered highly potent, it is linked to a few issues for many people who require it due to its interactions with other drugs. However, a new group of variant-proof therapies might help refill the country’s arsenal of COVID treatments. A group of health experts has recently found that a single injection of a supposed interferon medication might be able to reduce the risk of hospitalization by half among people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 infection. The findings of the study have been released in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings of a clinical trial that included around 2000 patients have resembled the outcomes that have been achieved by Paxlovid. The authors of the study have said that the interferon shots are more promising than Paxlovid. Experts have said that interferon shots can potentially help protect against not only COVID but also the flu and other viruses that have the potential to trigger future pandemics. They have stated that it invigorates the body’s mechanisms for eliminating an invading virus. An immunologist from the University of Toronto who has not been a part of the new study, Eleanor Fish also has said that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the coronavirus pandemic, an influenza virus pandemic, or another pandemic led by a respiratory virus, interferon shots are pretty useful for all types of viruses circulating at the moment.

Pegylated Interferon Lambda, a new drug, has an uncertain route to market. Eiger Biopharmaceuticals was informed last year by FDA drug regulators that they were not ready to approve the emergency use of its drug. Eiger Biopharmaceuticals officials stated that the problem was partly due to the fact that the drug had not been tested in the United States. They ran clinical trials in Brazil, Canada, and the United States. These clinical trials were conducted by academics and not the company. Officials from Eiger advised that a large clinical trial with participation from more people and at least some in the US would suffice. Eiger officials stated that such a case would require many years and significantly more capital. Experts believe these obstacles could be hindering the development of many next-generation COVID treatments and shots. These products might also help to reduce stress from the ongoing COVID toll. Eiger executives indicated that they may seek approval to administer interferon shots outside the US, and in countries like China. According to data, COVID-19 still claims the lives of approximately 450 Americans each day, despite the availability of vaccines and other treatments. Dr. Jeffrey Glenn, a Stanford University virus expert and chief of a Pandemic Preparedness Initiative, said it was a crazy situation that people still face the brunt of the virus three years after the pandemic. He also stated that the drug that can be prescribed for people who have contracted the deadly virus is this. Jeffrey Glenn led the research into the interferon shot. He was one of the founders and members of the board of directors at Eiger Biopharmaceuticals. However, he no longer works for the company.

Experts have said that interferons are a set of proteins that trigger neighboring cells to strengthen themselves immediately after a virus invades the body. They have said that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is capable of defusing the natural interferon reaction of the body like other pathogens. The authors of the study have claimed that a drug that delivers additional interferons can potentially assist patients to outsmart the virus. An immunologist from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Vineet Menachery has stated that such drugs can offer another benefit over existing medications and reduce the ability of a variant to evolve and resist the drug. Such types of treatments target patients’ immune responses rather than the virus itself. As per the data, a wide range of monoclonal antibodies is not valid anymore as they don’t fight against new variants. Paxlovid is still potent as it is much harder for the virus to evade this drug, however, experts believe that one day a new variant might be able to render it efficacy too. Benjamin tenOever, who is a microbiologist from NYU Grossman School of Medicine has said that he has not come across any virus that can evade a cell where interferon has reached first. Experts have claimed that interferons can generate wide-ranging side effects as well such as inflammation. In such a case, the risk of COVID-19 shoots up as some patients suffer from an overactive immune reaction.

Some past studies assessed interferon therapies only on patients who had already fallen ill and been admitted to the hospital. It showed that these drugs were often given to patients too late and it resulted in mixed or disappointing outcomes. Experts had earlier obtained a medication based on lambda interferons, which is a lesser-known group of interferon whose receptors are largely limited to some particular areas such as the respiratory tract while keeping hepatitis treatments in mind. The coronavirus replicates in respiratory tract. Experts found that the side effects would supposedly be less severe as compared to those from the more regularly used group of interferons, whose receptors are in the whole body.  In the latest study, around 900 patients were given the shots and nearly 100 patients were kept on a placebo. The authors of the study discovered no considerable change in the frequency of side effects.  Although vaccination protected the vast majority of patients in both sets of people from hospitalization, giving treatments with interferon to patients within a week after they suffered symptoms reduced their odds of being hospitalized.


Devoted my whole life to words - reading, writing and trying to be original on social media. Got certified in digital marketing - still not cool enough to be an influencer. Finished a master’s degree focused in Literature, Publishing, Mass Media. Hobbies include traveling, reading and hoping that yoga will be the thing to finally teach me some patience. Would like to take over the world at some point, but that’s an optional dream. Maybe modern tech can help me do that?