With the coronavirus rapidly spreading throughout the globe, doctors are thinking outside the box and using antiretroviral and flu drugs to combat the disease that has killed thousands of people.
Still, there is no exact science on whether or not it’s effective, and a successful treatment could be years from now. For now, patients with the common flu are given a drug called Tamiflu, but the coronavirus, which is similar to SARS, is not the same as the common flu.
This flu has infected thousands of people all around the world and has killed more than 1,000 – most of them in mainland China.
Using a 2004 study, during the SARS outbreak (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Chinese doctors began giving its coronavirus patients anti-HIV drugs ritonavir and lopinavir. These two drugs help to reduce the number of HIV cells in a person’s blood because it eliminates the ability for the virus has to replicate.
Doctors are combining this treatment with the anti-flu drug oseltamivir in the hopes that the concoction will cause the virus to weaken.
Thailand has about 20 confirmed cases, and doctors gave the three drugs to a 71-year-old Chinese patient. After 48 hours, a test on the patient’s blood came back negative. Thai doctors warned the medication should only be given under strict supervision to avoid any potential side effects or conflicts with pre-existing med(s).
It’s not sure if this works or not.
Chinese experts reported in the 2004 study that antiretrovirals on SARS patients had tremendous clinical benefits.
Based on the research, random trials of 41 coronavirus patients were limited. They were unable to attain complete samples of the patients’ lower respiratory tract, which they believe is the coronavirus origins, due to the lack of patients in verifying the results. Researchers said additional studies in community, primary care and outpatient are necessary to get an idea of the whole picture.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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