The combination of the antiviral drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, used against the AIDS virus, has “no beneficial effect in patients hospitalized for Covid-19”, concluded the leaders of the large British clinical trial Recovery.
“These preliminary results show that for patients hospitalized for Covid-19 who are not placed on artificial ventilation, (the combination) lopinavir-ritonavir is not an effective treatment”, judges in a press release the main person in charge of Recovery , Professor Peter Horby, of the University of Oxford.
However, the trial did not allow “any conclusion” to be drawn on the effectiveness of treatment in patients placed on artificial ventilation: their number was insufficient because of “the difficulty in (administering) the drug”, according to the Recovery press release.
The results have not yet been published in detailed form in a scientific journal, but have simply been the subject of a Recovery press release released Monday evening.
This is the third time that this vast trial, which includes nearly 12,000 patients in all, has made it possible to reach a conclusion on the treatments tested against Covid-19.
Previously, Recovery had shown in early June that hydroxychloroquine had no beneficial effect against Covid-19, then, in mid-June, that dexamethasone (a steroid) reduced mortality in the most seriously ill patients, those who are on artificial ventilation.
To rule on the combination lopinavir-ritonavir (marketed under the name of Kaletra), the researchers administered it to 1,596 patients and compared it with 3,376 others.
Result: there was no significant difference in mortality after 28 days (22.1% of patients versus 21.3%). There was also “no evidence of a beneficial effect on the progression of the disease leading to mechanical ventilation, nor on the length of hospital stay,” the statement said.
Among the patients, 4% were placed on artificial ventilation at the time they were included in the trial, 70% received oxygen via a mask without having to be intubated and 26% did not need any assistance respiratory.
Although dozens of treatments for Covid-19 have been evaluated worldwide, none has so far shown remarkable efficacy, with the exception of dexamethasone in the most affected patients.
Promoted by the United States, an antiviral, remdesivir, is currently a candidate for a marketing authorization in Europe, recommended by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
A study has shown that it slightly reduces the recovery time for hospital patients (from 15 to 11 days on average), but it has not proven benefits in terms of reducing mortality.