Today there are no drugs that have been proven to treat the coronavirus, COVID-19, but a study from China showed that the inexpensive anti-malarial drug, Chloroquine phosphate, was safe and effective in shortening the course and decreasing symptoms in patients suffering from COVID-19 pneumonia (Biosci Trends, Mar 16, 2020;14(1):72-73). Chloroquine phosphate has been used for more than 70 years to treat malaria. Researchers report no serious harmful reactions to the drug in the more than 100 patients enrolled in the study.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has started trials for this drug and three others that are already licensed to treat other illnesses, in ten different countries: Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand. Some studies in animals already show that these drugs may be effective in treating COVID-19:
• the antimalarial drug chloroquine
• the antiviral drug remdesivir (Gilead)
• a combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir (AbbVie)
• lopinavir and ritonavir plus interferon beta
So far, one study from China reports that lopinavir and ritonavir are not effective in treating COVID-19 infections (NEJM, Mar 18, 2020). Hopefully, other studies will lead to some effective treatments.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com