Coronavirus News Asia

Drug ‘cocktail’ shortens Covid-19 illness: study

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Researchers in Hong Kong have found that patients suffering milder illness caused by the new coronavirus recover more quickly if they are treated with a three-drug antiviral cocktail soon after symptoms appear.  

Authors of the study, published in the Lancet on Friday, described the findings as “early but important”. 

They called for larger-scale research on critically-ill patients to ascertain if the drug combo could be a viable treatment for them too. 

“Our trial demonstrates that early treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 with a triple combination of antiviral drugs may rapidly suppress the amount of virus in a patient’s body,” said Kwok-Yung Yuen, professor at the University of Hong Kong, who led the research. 

He said the treatment, which appeared safe in patients, was shown to “relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk to health-care workers by reducing the duration and quantity of viral shedding (when the virus is detectable and potentially transmissible)”. 

Scientists are racing to identify effective medicines to use against the new coronavirus, but there is currently no treatment, cure or vaccine.  

The study tracked the virus in 127 adults admitted to six hospitals in Hong Kong after they tested positive.

Of those participating, 86 patients were given a two-week course of three medicines: interferon beta-1b, a drug used to treat multiple sclerosis; HIV drugs lopinavir-ritonavir; and ribavirin, used to treat hepatitis. 

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