SARS (acute respiratory viral infections) are diseases in which different viruses cause similar symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat, watery eyes, hoarseness, fever, headache, etc.). In the diagnosis of ARVI, medicine deviates from its rule – to get to the bottom of the root cause of the disease, in this case it refuses to identify the pathogen in most cases. Why is this happening?
Flu or SARS?
The fact is that more than 200 viruses from different groups cause SARS, and there is an effective treatment only against some of them. That is, even if we find out the name of the virus, the doctor’s tactics will not change. Therefore, if such research is carried out, it is for scientific, and not applied medical purposes.
The exception is influenza viruses, against which effective drugs have been created: neuraminidase inhibitors. Oseltamivir and zanamivir are registered in Russia. They can shorten the duration of the illness, reduce its severity, and help avoid complications. Therefore, rapid tests for influenza viruses have been created. For their implementation, a swab is taken from the pharynx, the result of the study is ready almost immediately. These drugs act exclusively on influenza viruses, therefore, with a negative test, they are not prescribed.
There are rare situations in infections that are formally referred to as SARS, when antiviral treatment is also prescribed: for example, in severe infectious mononucleosis. However, in this case, specific drugs are used that act only on the causative agent of mononucleosis and its “close relatives”. Against all other viruses, that is, almost all, except for influenza and mononucleosis, antiviral drugs have not been created. And it is clear why: against 200 viruses, 200 specific drugs and 200 specific diagnostic tests will be conditionally required. Even if we imagine that it is technically possible, it is impossible economically – such a host of drugs will never pay off. Therefore, if the SARS problem is ever solved, I am sure not in our century. But you ask me, what about all those anti-ARVI drugs that are sold in pharmacies, advertised on TV and massively prescribed in most of our clinics? Unfortunately, there is no evidence of their clinical effectiveness that meets the international rules for testing GCP preparations.