Yes, this blog is about so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) – but today is an exception.
There has been much news coverage of potential treatments of coronavirus. Some of the candidates such as hydroxychloroquine, have even been tested in clinical trials. However, due to the preliminary nature of these studies, the value of of the drugs remains uncertain.
What is needed in our present dire situation is a large and rigorous trial of already licensed drugs that might have a positive effect. With a bit of luck, such a study could save thousands of lives.
Unfortunately, setting up a trial of this nature is difficult and takes time.
Now the UK’s government has announced that the world’s largest randomised clinical trial of potential coronavirus treatments has been running since 19 March. It was designed, planned, approved and implemented in record time. The study is aimed at testing several promising treatments. If the findings are positive, they will be given to NHS patients as quickly as possible.
Almost 1,000 patients from 132 different UK hospitals have to date been recruited. The trial is testing a number of medicines recommended by an expert panel advising the Chief Medical Officer for England. They include:
- Lopinavir-Ritonavir, commonly used to treat HIV
- Dexamethasone, a type of steroid use in a range of conditions to reduce inflammation
- Hydroxychloroquine, a treatment for malaria
Adult patients who have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are being invited to take part. The trial is designed such that, as further promising drugs are identified, they can be added to the study within days. Patients who volunteer are randomly allocated to
- standard care alone,
- or to standard of care plus one of the additional drugs.
The data will be analysed on a rolling basis so that any beneficial treatments are identified as soon as possible.
This study seems like an excellent idea. I do hope it is successful and manages to find a drug that increases the chances of survival. I keep my fingers crossed.
Please note that the scientists did not include homeopathy or other SCAMs into their trial.