Experimental drug can speed up Covid-19 recovery: Study

Experimental drug can speed up Covid-19 recovery: Study
TORONTO: Scientists have found that an experimental antiviral drug can significantly speed recovery in Covid-19 patients who do not require hospitalization, an advance that could lead to better interventions to treat those infected with the new coronavirus.
The study, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, noted that patients who received a single injection of the drug peginterferon lambda were more than four times more likely to clear the infection within seven days compared to a group taking placebo was treated.
“This treatment has great therapeutic potential, especially at the moment, as we see aggressive variants of the virus spread around the world that are less sensitive to both vaccines and antibody treatment,” said study co-author Jordan Feld. Toronto Center for Liver Disease in Canada.
According to the researchers, people treated with the drug cleared up the virus quickly, with the effect being most pronounced in those with the highest viral levels.
“We also saw a trend towards faster improvement of respiratory symptoms in the treated group,” explains Feld.
Patients with higher viral levels were much more likely to clear the infection after treatment with the drug than those who received the placebo – 79 percent in the treatment arm compared to 38 percent in the placebo group.
The researchers added that virus levels decreased rapidly in everyone in the treatment group.
They explained that rapid clearance of the virus has several benefits, especially in people with high viral levels, as such cases are associated with more serious illness and a higher risk of transmission to others.
Of the 60 patients followed in the study, the researchers said five went to the emergency room with worsening respiratory symptoms.
And of those five, they said that four were in the placebo group, while only one was in the group that received the actual drug.
"If we can lower the virus level quickly, people are less likely to spread the infection to others and we can even shorten the time it takes for self-isolation," said Feld.
The scientists said interferon lambda is a protein produced by the body in response to viral infections with the ability to activate a number of cellular pathways to kill invading viruses.
Since the new coronavirus prevents the body from making interferons as a means of preventing it from being controlled by the body's immune system, the study states that treatment with the drug activates the same virucidal pathways in the cells.
According to the researchers, the drug peginterferon-lambda is a long-acting version of the drug developed by Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, adding that it can be given as a single injection under the skin with a small needle.
They hope to conduct a phase 3 study in the near future to find the drug's efficacy in a much larger population.

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