Photo for illustrative purposes Image Credit: Pexels

The combination of an anti-malaria drug – trade name Plaqenuil – and antibiotic azithromycin could be quite effective in treating the novel coronavirus, COVID19, found a French study published in International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

In the study coordinated by Méditerranée Infection University Hospital Institute in Marseille, in which the subjects were 30 confirmed to have COVID-19, the patients were to receive 600mg of hydroxychloroquine daily between early and mid-March. Their viral load in nasopharyngeal swabs was tested daily in a hospital setting. Depending on their clinical presentation, azithromycin was added to the treatment, explained the research paper. Untreated patients from another center and cases refusing the protocol were included as negative controls. Presence and absence of virus on day six was considered the end point of the study.



The study said six patients were asymptomatic, 22 had upper respiratory tract infection symptoms and eight had lower respiratory tract infection symptoms. Twenty cases were treated in this study and showed a significant reduction of the viral carriage on day 6 compared to controls, and a much lower average carrying duration was reported when compared to untreated patients during the same period. Azithromycin added to hydroxychloroquine was significantly more efficient for virus elimination.

Does this mean a cure is on hand?

No, not really. But it is a promising study, even if it is limited by the number of participants. Scientists around the globe are working tirelessly to find a combination of drugs or treatments that might stem and bring under control the virulent coronavirus that has already globally claimed more than 11,000 lives.

Some health-focused practitioners are looking at the medicines used to combat Ebola, SARS, HIV and other global outbreaks.

Vaccine development is also under way in but an approved and effective immunization will take at least 12-18 months to develop, say experts.