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Health

HIV treatment has no benefit for hospitalised COVID-19 patients: study

LONDON (Reuters) - A combination of antiviral drugs usually used to treat HIV has no beneficial effect in patients hospitalised with COVID-19, a peer-reviewed study said on Monday, confirming the initial results of a large-scale randomised trial of the drug.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed coronavirus model is seen in front of the words coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on display in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

British scientists running the RECOVERY trial at the University of Oxford in June said interim results had convincingly ruled out any meaningful benefit of lopinavir-ritonavir in lowering mortality among hospitalised patients.

Publishing the full findings of the study in The Lancet medical journal, the scientists said that 23% of those given the drugs died within 28 days of treatment beginning, compared to 22% of those given usual care.

The treatment also did not reduce the length of a patient’s hospital stay or the chances they would be put on a ventilator.

“Results from this trial show that it is not an effective treatment for patients admitted to hospital with COVID–19,” said Professor Martin Landray from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, who co-leads the RECOVERY trial.

AbbVie Inc’s Kaletra is a combination of the drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, used together to fight HIV. The company had increased its supplies while it was determining whether it can be used to treat COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in July discontinued its trial of lopinavir-ritonavir after it failed to reduce mortality.

The lopinavir-ritonavir arm of the RECOVERY trial involved 1,616 patients receiving the drugs, and 3,424 receiving usual care alone.

The Oxford-based RECOVERY trial has been examining the effectiveness of a range of possible COVID-19 treatments, enrolling 13,000 patients in all.

The arm of the trial studying dexamethasone, a steroid, found it reduced the death rate of patients that required oxygen. Another arm found the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, touted by U.S. President Donald Trump, had no benefit as a treatment.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Jan Harvey

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