By Peter Bianco
Update: There are other promising therapies using IV vitamin C, and one using interferon. See links at the end of this article. Also see the latest French study.
An independent group of scientists and physicians have been working on an open-data clinical trial. Open-data is almost completely un-utilized in clinical trials. When trial data is not public it allows researchers working for pharmaceutical companies to selectively publish studies highlighting the virtues of a drug while concealing the results that would otherwise illuminate it’s harmful effects.
This open-data clinical trial has been peer-reviewed and was published on March 18th, 2020. The trial started early this month and concluded March 16th. All patients in the study were confirmed to have COVID-19. The test to confirm the presence of the virus was a PCR assay. A total of 36 patients were enrolled; 26 of them received 600mg of hydroxychloroquine daily and 16 were control patients. These 16 did not want to use the drugs offered in this protocol.
Only 6 patients in the trial received both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. All 6 were cured of COVID-19. This is exciting news especially because these are both affordable generic drugs.
Hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug which is an effective synthetic substitute for natural quinine. Quinine is a compound found in the bark of Cinchona trees native to Peru and was the previous drug of choice against malaria. Hydroxychloroquine has broad-spectrum activity against a range of bacterial, fungal and viral infections .
Chloroquine is one of the most prescribed drugs worldwide and re-purposing was explored against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other viruses associated with inflammation and was found to be efficient in inhibiting their replication cycle.
In test tubes chloroquine seems versatile in the number of viruses it can inhibit. In these cases it shows antiviral activity against rabies, polio, HIV, herpes simplex, hepatitis A, B and C, influenza A and B, H5N1, Zika and Ebola virus. These results, however, are not always reproduced in clinical trials depending on the disease, the concentration of chloroquine used, the duration of treatment and the clinical team in charge of the trial.
The viral load of the patients was tested daily in a hospital setting using nasopharyngeal swabs. Six days into the trial, 70% of hydroxychloroquine-treated patients were cured of the virus compared with 12.5% in the control group.
Among hydroxychloroquine-treated patients, six patients also received azithromycin also known as Z-Pak, which is a type of antibiotic. Azithromycin has been shown to be active in test tubes against Zika and Ebola viruses and to prevent severe respiratory tract infections when administrated to patients suffering viral infection.
It seems the addition of azithromycin was not the core protocol, but was given to patients at the doctors discretion to prevent bacterial super-infection. The six patients who received it took 500mg on the first day followed by 250mg a day for the next four days.
At day-6 of the study, 100% of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin combination were cured of the virus compared with 57.1% in patients treated with hydroxychloroquine only, and 12.5% in the control group.
As you can see Azithromycin added to hydroxychloroquine was significantly more efficient for virus elimination.
This study shows efficient clearing of viral load in only three to six days, for most patients. Even by day three of the treatment, a significant improvement was observed. Compare this to a study from China which shows the average duration of viral shedding in patients suffering from COVID-19 in China was 20 days with longest duration being 37 days.
The authors conclude the study by saying “Our study has some limitations including a small sample size, limited long-term outcome follow-up, and dropout of six patients from the study, however in the current context, we believe that our results should be shared with the scientific community.”
See Didier Raoult, M.D., Ph.D. talk about the study here.
As far back as 2005 researchers knew Chloroquine was effective against SARS coronavirus. A study was published in Virology Journal titled ‘Chloroquine is a potent inhibitor of SARS coronavirus infection and spread’.
Updates of therapies:
Using IV vitamin C to treat COVID-19
Hasidic doctor in NYC helping COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine until NY banned the use of it. A move that was later reversed.
Cuba uses Interferon Alpha 2B against COVID-19. The cure was initiated by Cuban Drs, healing 1,500 Chinese in January in Wuhan Province.