Scientists in Hong Kong have developed a cocktail of three drugs that appears to help patients suffering with mild symptoms of COVID-19 recover faster.
By using the anti-HIV therapy lopinavir-ritonavir, the hepatitis drug ribavirin, and the multiple sclerosis treatment interferon-beta, they were able to shorten the duration of illness in these patients from 12 days to seven.
“Our trial demonstrates that early treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 with a triple combination of anti-viral drugs may rapidly suppress the amount of virus in a patient’s body, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk to healthcare workers,” said Kwok-Yung Yuen, a professor at the University of Hong Kong who led the study, according to Al Jazeera.
The study was carried out between Feb. 10 and March 20 in Hong Kong, where everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is admitted to the hospital. In the trial, all 127 patients involved received standard hospital care as needed, including ventilation support, dialysis support, antibiotics and corticosteroids, according to information published in The Lancet.
Independent experts say that the findings were positive but that larger and more detailed studies are needed.
“This justifies the consideration of adding interferon-beta to the list of genuinely, evidence-based, promising treatments to be tested in further randomized trials,” said Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, according to Al Jazeera.
He said that years of experience in treating the HIV virus that causes AIDS has shown that it is best treated with combinations of drugs “and this could also be the case with COVID-19.”
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