Coronavirus outbreak: Thai doctors use cocktail of HIV and anti-flu drugs to treat patients 'successfully'
This is not the cure, but the patient's condition has vastly improved, say experts. From testing positive for 10 days under our care, after applying this combination of medicine, the test result became negative within 48 hours, say doctors
A 71-year-old patient infected with the Wuhan coronavirus has shown signs of recovery after Thailand doctors treated her with a concoction of drugs: an antiviral and two HIV drugs.
The latest lab test showed that there is no trace of the virus in the patient's respiratory system, officials said during a press conference.
"This is not a cure, but the patient's condition has vastly improved. From testing positive for 10 days under our care, after applying this combination of medicine, the test result became negative within 48 hours," Dr. Kriangska Atipornwanich, a lung specialist at Rajavithi Hospital, told reporters.
“The outlook is good but we still have to do more study to determine that this can be a standard treatment," he added.
Thailand confirmed 19 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, eight have recovered while 11 are still being treated. A majority of them were Chinese visitors. However, recently, the country recorded its first human-to-human transmission.
A team of doctors tested three patients, including the 71-year-old woman — with the two HIV medicines — lopinavir and ritonavir — and one anti-flu medication named oseltamivir.
One patient developed a rash and had to be dropped from the trial. While the woman recovered, another patient is still being treated.
"After poor lab tests for 10 days, the test finally turned positive after 48 hours of administering the medications. The treatment, as well as the recovery, is fast," Atipornwanich explained.
However, this is not the first time doctors have used HIV drugs to treat coronavirus. In China, doctors have already been using HIV drugs for this purpose, say doctors.
The doctors decided to add the antiflu drug to the cocktail based on earlier research. The study suggested that the drug helped some patients infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome, another type of coronavirus.
As there was no standard procedure yet, the doctors tried a new combination of drugs: one of the doctors increased the dose of antiflu medicine Oseltamivir, Somsak Akkslim, director-general of the Medical Services Department, said.
The team has reported their findings to a journal and they plan to use this cocktail of drugs on additional patients.
The health ministry will meet on Monday, February 3, to discuss the future of this treatment. "Initially we will apply this approach only to severe cases," Akkslim said.