Hope for treatment with Covid-19 was broken when a study of the promising HIV drug found it does NOT work
Hope for treatment with Covid-19 was broken when a study of promising HIV drugs given to infected patients showed that it does NOT work
- Scientists at the University of Oxford are taking lopinavir / ritonavir from the RECOVERY study today
- The head of the study said the results showed “quite clearly” that it did not work in any patient
- It has been used in hospitals around the world to treat Covid without any evidence
Lopinavir / ritonavir, marketed under the brand names Kaletra and Aluvia, is an HIV medicine that is also being tested
An HIV drug earmarked as a potential coronavirus treatment does not improve the condition of patients with the infection, a large British study shows.
Scientists at the University of Oxford removed lopinavir / ritonavir from the RECOVERY study today after the results showed that it was of no benefit to people hospitalized with the virus.
The anti-HIV drug, marketed as Kaletra and Aluvia, has been tested in hospitals around the world to treat the disease – although there is no evidence that it works.
It was earmarked early in the pandemic because it interferes with the same enzymes involved in the replication of Covid-19 in the body.
Professor Peter Horby, who is headed by RECOVERY, told the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee today that the results on lopinavir / ritonavir were “quite clear.”
He said, “We just looked at the results [on lopinavir/ritonavir] and shown to be ineffective.
“That is another drug recommended in many countries in national guidelines, we have shown quite clearly that it does not work either.”
WHAT IS LOPINAVIR / RITONAVIR?
The combination of lopinavir and ritonavir is used in HIV patients to prevent the virus from developing into AIDS.
Lopinavir and ritonavir are in a class of medicines called protease inhibitors.
Protease inhibitors work by sticking to an enzyme on a virus that is vital to the reproduction of the virus.
Doing so blocks the process that the virus would normally use to clone itself and spread the infection further.
When lopinavir and ritonavir are taken together, ritonavir also helps increase the amount of lopinavir in the body so that the medication will have a greater effect.
The combination comes as a tablet or a solution. It is usually taken twice a day.
HIV patients were prescribed Kaltra or ritonavir approximately 1,400 times in 2018.
Side effects include nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, gas, headache and trouble sleeping.
Lopinavir / ritonavir was given to three groups of coronavirus patients with varying degrees of disease: those on ventilators, patients requiring oxygen, and those with mild symptoms.
The results were then compared to a control group receiving standard care, including painkillers and, in some cases, antibiotics.
Full results have not been disclosed, but Professor Horby said the team is gathering the data to be sent later today.
It makes lopinavir / ritonavir the second drug to be withdrawn from the trial after the promising malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was removed on June 5.
Likewise, it was found that the anti-malarial drug had no effect on any of the groups of coronavirus patients.
But the RECOVERY study was also responsible for the biggest breakthrough yet in the global fight against coronavirus, after it was proven that a cheap steroid reduced death in very sick patients.
Dexamethasone has been shown to save up to 35 percent of patients relying on ventilators – the most dangerous ill – and reducing the risk of death by a fifth for all patients who need oxygen at any one time.
More than 11,800 Covid patients participated in the Randomized evaluation of the COV-id19 therapy (RECOVERY) study in hundreds of UK hospitals.
After today’s announcement, there are only three treatments left in the study – azithromycin, a common antibiotic; tocilizumab, an anti-inflammatory given by injection; and restorative plasma therapy, in which survivors’ blood is injected into patients struggling to shake the disease.
Professor Horby said the team wanted to add more drugs as the trial goes into winter.
It comes after dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid that has been around for decades, became the first drug proven to reduce mortality rates among hospital patients.
Professor Horby announced the news on June 16, saying that treating eight people with the drug could save one life and cost just £ 40 in total.
It could save up to 35 percent of patients who rely on ventilators – the most dangerously ill – and reduce the risk of death by a fifth for all patients who need oxygen at any one time.
The steroid prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation, an annoying Covid-19 complication that makes breathing difficult. The lungs become so inflamed in critically ill patients that they find it difficult to work.
Dexamethasone is now the second drug available in the NHS arsenal to treat Covid-19, after Ebola’s remedivir was cleared for a new scientific breakthrough last month.