Thai doctors say they are successfully treating coronavirus with combo of flu, HIV drugs

A bit of good news to brighten up the latest news reports on the Wuhan coronavirus is that a combination of flu- and HIV-drugs is showing promising results in curbing the virus.

On Sunday 2 February 2020, the Thai Ministry of Public Health announced that Bangkok doctors used a mixture of the flu drug oseltamivir and HIV treatments lopinavir and ritonavir on a 71-year old Chinese woman who contracted the virus. During 10 days of treatment, she only started showing signs of recovery when the combination of the above drugs was administered.

After treatment was started, doctors said her condition quickly improved and she tested negative for the virus within 48 hours.

According to a Reuters report, doctors have previously used these drugs individually to help curb the virus, but only now discovered that optimum results can be obtained by combining the two types of drugs.

It has been reported that at least one other Thai patient showed a promising recovery after being treated with the above combination of drugs.

It’s important to note, however, that it’s still too early to tell if this combination will be as effective in other cases of the virus.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health warned that there are currently no drugs that have been proven to effectively combat the virus.

But these results show a different story.

In a statement, pharmaceutical company AbbVie, manufacturers of the drug Aluvia (lopinavir/ritonavir), has confirmed a donation of the drug in an experimental effort to support growing public health concerns.

Why these drugs?

Research involving HIV drugs has been carried out in the past to explore their effect on the coronavirus.

According a report in a local newspaper, Chinese researchers have found three existing drugs with fairly good inhibitory effects on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) at the cellular level.

The three drugs are remdesivir, chloroquine and ritonavir. They are now undergoing the necessary procedures to gain approval for clinical use, according to Hubei Daily.

The discovery was jointly made by researchers from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The reason why the flu drug oseltamivir was chosen was because it had already been used to treat the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

“We checked and found that MERS patients were effectively treated with flu medications. Furthermore we added antiretrovirals with great results.

“After 10 days of positive readings, the test finally came back negative 48 hours after administering the medications. The treatment, as well as the recovery, is fast,” commented the doctors. The two doctors from Rajavithi Hospital are Dr Kriangsak Atipornwanich and Dr Subsai Kongsangdao.

“Other coronavirus patients will now be treated with the flu/anti-Aids drug combination, especially as this combination has proved to be effective in patients with serious symptoms,” said the doctors according to the Thai Public Health Minister.

Image credit: iStock 

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