Two existing drugs could ‘cure’ coronavirus as patients respond well to treatment – The Sun

TWO existing drugs could "cure" coronavirus as patients respond well to treatment, experts say.

Scientists in Australia say that drugs normally used to treat malaria and HIV have been shown to wipe out the virus in test tubes.

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The team from the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research hope to have patients enrolled in a nationwide trial by the end of the month.

Professor David Paterson, who led the research, told that one of the medications, given to some of the first people to test positive for Covid-19 in Australia, had already resulted in “disappearance of the virus” and complete recovery from the infection.

Prof Paterson, who is also an infectious disease physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, said it wasn’t a stretch to label the drugs “a treatment or a cure”.

“It’s a potentially effective treatment,” he said.

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“Patients would end up with no viable coronavirus in their system at all after the end of therapy.”

The drugs are both already registered and available in the UK and Australia.

“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,” Prof Paterson said.

Given their history, researchers have a “long experience of them being very well tolerated” and there are no unexpected side effects.

“We’re not on a flat foot, we can sort of move ahead very rapidly with enrolling Australians in this trial,” Prof Paterson said.

“It’s the question we all have – we know it’s coming now, what is the best way to treat it?”

His research team are confident they can start getting the drugs to patients in a very safe way on home soil.

“We want to give Australians the absolute best treatment rather than just someone’s guesses or someone’s anecdotal experiences from a few people,” Prof Paterson added.

He said they hope to be enrolling patients by the end of March.

“And that way, if we can test it in this first wave of patients, we do fully expect that there are going to be ongoing infections for months and months ahead, and therefore we’ll have the best possible information to treat subsequent patients,” Prof Paterson said.

He said the trouble with the data coming from China was that it wasn’t really gathered “in a very controlled way”, given they were the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak at the time.

“Things were just chaotic,” Prof Paterson said.

“There were these emergency hospitals being built and the system really being very, very stretched.”

One of the two medications is a HIV drug, which has been superseded by “newer generation” HIV drugs, and the other is an anti-malaria drug called chloroquine which is rarely used and “kept on the shelf now” due to resistance to malaria.

He said the researchers want to study them in a “very meaningful way” against the coronavirus to “try and alleviate" anxiety.

“There have already been patients treated with these in Australia and there’s been successful outcomes but it hasn’t been done in a controlled or a comparative way,” Prof Paterson said.
The drugs would be given orally, as tablets.

Prof Paterson said patients would be asked to participate “as soon as they’re admitted” to hospital with the aim of beginning treatment “very early on in their illness”.

He said the research was sparked by Chinese patients, who were first given the drug in Australia, showing their doctors information on the internet about the treatment used overseas.

“Our doctors were very, very surprised that a HIV drug could actually work against the novel coronavirus and there was a bit of scepticism,” he 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.

“That’s reassuring … that we’re onto something really good here.”

The RBWH Foundation has established a Coronavirus Action Fund.

By Monday afternoon it had raised $30,000 (£15,000) of the desired $750,000 (£376,000) for the clinical drug trials and other related medical research.

“The trials will start as soon as funding is secured,” the fund states.

This afternoon, Boris Johnson urged Brits to stop going to the pub and out for dinner to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In a bombshell statement this afternoon he drastically ramped up Britain's battleplan – shutting down mass gatherings and urging everyone to stop non-essential travel and contact with others.

Anyone who can should try and work from home if they can to limit their exposure to others, the PM added.

The number of cases could DOUBLE every five or six weeks if Britain didn't take "draconian" action now, he warned the country, in the most drastic action taken so far to tackle the disease.

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