Drugs used to treat HIV and malaria could be used to tackle the Coronavirus, according to scientists in US, Australia, and China.
The development follows a team of infectious disease experts at the University of Queensland in Brisbane who say they have seen two existing medications manage to wipe out COVID-19 infections.
Doctors in US and China have also seen promising results with the drug and hope to start a trial within the next few weeks. AUDIO: Coronavirus podcast newest episode.
The celebratory, comes as US President Donald Trump in a chaotic press conference on Thursday, even touted the drug as a coronavirus treatment, saying the medication was “approved for prescription,” though the drug is labeled exclusively for use as an antimalarial. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, appeared to contradict the president almost immediately, saying any analysis of the drug’s efficacy as a coronavirus treatment should be conducted “in a setting of a clinical trial.”
But Australian scientists maintain saying Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, and HIV-suppressing combination lopinavir/ritonavir have both shown promising results in human tests and made the virus ‘disappear’ in infected patients.
The drugs are being tested as researchers and doctors around the world scramble to try and find a vaccine, cure or treatment for the deadly virus.
Around 170,000 people across the globe have now been infected with the coronavirus and over 6,500 have died.
After China managed to get a handle on its sudden outbreak other countries were blindsided by huge epidemics – almost 25,000 people have caught it in Italy, around 14,000 in Iran, 8,000 in Spain and more than 5,000 apiece in Germany and France.
Queensland researcher, Professor David Paterson, said he hopes to enrol people in larger scale pharmaceutical trials by the end of the month.
Professor Paterson said it wouldn’t be wrong to consider the drugs a possible ‘treatment or cure’ for the deadly respiratory infection.
He explained that when the HIV medication lopinavir/ritonavir was given to people infected with the coronavirus in Australia it led to the ‘disappearance of the virus’.
He told Australian news site news.com.au: ‘It’s a potentially effective treatment.
‘Patients would end up with no viable coronavirus in their system at all after the end of the therapy.’
Although the treatment had been effective in a smattering of cases, there hasn’t been any controlled testing like what would be needed to test a new drug, Professor Paterson said.
‘That first wave of Chinese patients we had (in Australia), they all did very, very well when they were treated with the HIV drug,’ Professor Paterson said.
‘What we want to do at the moment is a large clinical trial across Australia, looking at 50 hospitals, and what we’re going to compare is one drug, versus another drug, versus the combination of the two drugs,’ Professor Paterson said. – READ MORE