A recent randomized trial published in The Lancet showed some promising effects of the 3-drug combo in treating COVID-19. More specifically, it is able to reduce the duration of shedding, which is the period in which the virus is detectable and transmissible to other people.
The study involved 127 people from February to March, 2020. All of them lived in Hong Kong, China and had been tested positive with coronavirus.
With the 3-drug combo treatment, the average duration of shredding was only 5 days.
The researchers randomly assigned 41 people to a control group and the others to a group with the combo.
In the combo group, patients were given a combination of three drugs, including ribavirin, ritonavir, and lopinavir, in 2 weeks
In the control group, patients were only given ritonavir and lopinavir, also in 2 weeks.
The results suggested that the 3-drug combo was more efficient and safer in improving coronavirus signs, reducing the duration of hospitalization, as well as reducing the duration of shredding.
On average, it took around 7 days for the virus to disappear in the combo group. The same figure for the control group was 12 days.
Both groups experienced some side effects, including diarrhea and nausea.
The trial indicated that early treatment of coronavirus with a 3-drug combo of antiviral medications, especially in mild to moderate cases, might quickly reduce the number of viral elements in the body, improve symptoms, as well as lower the risk to healthcare providers.
However, these results must be verified in bigger trials with more serious cases.
There are a few limitations to this trial. The open-label nature of this study meant that both the patients and authors already realized the received and given medications. In other words, there was not a placebo group.
However, many health experts still mentioned the strengths of the study. Most published trials so far have been observational or retrospective. As a result, this randomized and prospective controlled design makes a noticeable contribution to the increasing proof on treatments. This would help eliminate a couple of limitations in many retrospective studies.
This trial also indicates a development in searching for a much-needed treatment for COVID-19. Nevertheless, as the authors conclude, further research is necessary to confirm the efficacy of the method, especially in combination with other medications to deal with critically or severe patients compared with placebo.