4-drug combination may speed up coronavirus recovery, Hong Kong study finds

A four-drug combination (not shown here) could speed up coronavirus recovery among patients with mild symptoms.
A four-drug combination (not shown here) could speed up coronavirus recovery among patients with mild symptoms.(AP)

A four-drug cocktail could help coronavirus patients recover more quickly, a study conducted in Hong Kong found.

The cocktail includes three antiviral drugs and a different drug that boosts natural immune system chemicals. Though the study came with multiple caveats, doctors found the results encouraging.

Patients who received the full four-drug combination recovered in an average of seven days, while those who received only two of the drugs took an average of 12 days to shake off the disease.

The study tested 127 people in Hong Kong, all of whom had only mild COVID-19 symptoms and had tested positive for the disease within seven days of the trial. Doctors cautioned that both of these conditions were important, Science News reported.

Subjects suffered few side effects from the drug cocktail, which consisted of the HIV antiviral combination of ritonavir and lopanivir (sold under the brand name Kaletra) along with the general antiviral ribavirin and the chemical beta interferon, which is typically used to treat multiple sclerosis.

Those in the slower, 12-day group, received only the two antivirals that make up Kaletra.

The cocktail could provide an alternative to the experimental drug remdesivir, which has shown similar promising results in experimental tests but is limited in supply.

Given the global pandemic that has killed nearly 275,000 people, however, doctors have adapted an “any port in a storm" mentality.

“In COVID-19 we don’t have the luxury of time,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a California doctor treating coronavirus patients, told CNN. “This is one of the treatment options where we are teaching old drugs new tricks. We don’t have the time to take a drug rationally from beginning to end because we have a crisis right now. We have to make do with what we have.”

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