1 . Medication against coronavirus in sight: "If I had Covid-19 myself, I would take this" | Topics
The hope for antiviral medication against Covid-19 is increasing rapidly. On Tuesday, a French researcher reported encouraging results about a known and cheap malaria drug. “We are excited. But this is not to say that social measures can be loosened again, ”Belgian experts emphasize.
March 20, 2020, 7:31 am
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Science is frantically trying to overtake super sprinter SARS-CoV-2. We still have to wait a year and a half for a vaccine that protects us. But there is now increasing evidence that there is antiviral medication. In recent weeks, dozens of studies have been started, particularly in China and Italy, with known ingredients and medication for AIDS and Ebola, among others.
Test results look better every day. “I expect soon, possibly next week, publications in a professional magazine. From then on, we could really start administering medication to the sick, ”says professor of epidemiology Anne-Mieke Vandamme (KU Leuven).
The results circulated by French professor Didier Raoult, an expert in infectious diseases, on Tuesday are particularly hopeful. He tested two drugs in 24 Covid-19 patients. He had his presentation for his students at the University Hospital of Marseille recorded and he posted that video.
Raoult's data shows that the number of Covid-19 patients who test positive for the virus drops from about 100 percent to about 30 percent within six days when they receive chloroquine. For those who do not receive the drug, it is still more than 80 percent after six days.
And there is more. Raoult's team also tested a combination of the malaria drug with the antibiotic azithromycin. This double approach gives even better results. “Up to and including day two, this duo does much the same as chloroquine,” says virologist Johan Neyts (KU Leuven), “but after that you suddenly see a fairly rapid decrease in the number of people who still test positive for SARS-CoV-2. It will be less than 10 percent by day six. ”
It fits in perfectly with what the lab of Neyts and colleague Marc Van Ranst saw and published in 2004 during the SARS epidemic. "Then an old malaria drug, chloroquine, was found to work well against SARS-CoV," says Van Ranst. “The current SARS-CoV-2 is very similar, so the determination of Raoult in Covid-19 patients is not surprising. Researchers in China have also already come to this conclusion. ”
Neyts is also “enthusiastic” about the French results. "There are still two caveats," he says. “This has not yet received a peer review (peer review, ed.) And has not yet been published in a scientific journal. The number of patients is also small. Still, I am really positive because I think the differences over those six days are too big to be explained by chance. ”
The drug duo doesn't seem like a perfect antiviral treatment, but it does make a big difference to patients. “Every little bit helps. That's why I'm looking forward to what it will give if we supplement this duo with other promising medications, ”says Neyts, who tests thousands of substances with his lab for partial or total effect against SARS-CoV-2.