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Preliminary trial results find antiviral drug lopinavir/ritonavir does not reduce death in hospitalised patients with COVID-19

30 Jun 2020

The ‘RECOVERY’ trial has released preliminary results showing lopinavir/ritonavir, an antiviral drug commonly used to treat HIV, had no significant mortality benefit in hospitalised COVID-19 patients. The RECOVERY trial (which stands for ‘Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY’) was funded by UKRI as part of the UKRI/DHSC/NIHR COVID-19 rapid research response.

To provide real-time information in the pandemic, the results have been announced as quickly as possible, so it should be noted that the findings have not yet been peer-reviewed and accepted in a journal.

A range of potential treatments have been suggested for COVID-19 but nobody knows if any of them will turn out to be more effective in improving survival than the usual standard of hospital care which all patients will receive.

The RECOVERY trial has also recently announced preliminary results showing: low-cost dexamethasone reduced death by up to one third in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications of COVID-19; and no effect on mortality from the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

Lopinavir is an HIV protease inhibitor, which is combined with ritonavir to increase lopinavir’s plasma half-life. Lopinavir/ritonavir had shown promising activity against SARS and MERS coronaviruses.

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, which helped fund the trial, said: ‘It is very important that we test potential therapies in randomised clinical trials so that we can find out whether re-purposed drugs work or not. The UK’s RECOVERY trial is the world’s largest randomised trial of potential COVID-19 treatments and has worked with unprecedented speed to start delivering the answers we need. Whilst it is disappointing that lopinavir/ritonavir, like hydroxychloroquine, has been found to be ineffective, the earlier findings with dexamethasone were positive. Researchers and health professionals are now focusing their efforts, and patient care, on other promising drugs.’

View the full article on the UKRI website.

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