A statistician at Lancaster University in the UK has revealed positive results from a randomised clinical trial conducted in China to assess HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir for alleviating Covid-19 symptoms.

The trial was started when less than 500 coronavirus cases were registered globally, said Lancaster University mathematics and statistics department professor Thomas Jaki.

During the study, 199 patients at Jin Yin-Tan Hospital in Wuhan, China were given standard of care or lopinavir/ritonavir.

Results revealed a promising profile of the HIV drugs in Covid-19 patients. Participants who received lopinavir/ritonavir experienced comparatively faster improvements.

The drugs also led to a significantly shorter time to clinical improvement compared to patients on standard of care alone.

Jaki said: “The results were quite encouraging, which has led to further studies taking place and I would expect to see these treatments to be introduced into routine care, in some cases, in the coming weeks.”

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These findings will be considered as part of the UK’s RECOVERY trial, which is expected to evaluate nearly 30 potential Covid-19 treatments.

Commenting on the RECOVERY study, Jaki said: “We have benefited by learning from trials in China, keep it simple. RECOVERY uses a very short protocol and attempts to minimise burden on staff in hospitals which are overwhelmed, so we have tried to ensure data collection is simple.

“This is one of the largest trials into treatments for Covid-19. There is a second large trial that is currently recruiting in the UK, REMAP-CAP, which is looking at impacts of treatments on severely ill patients, but both teams have worked together to ensure they will be able to learn as much as they can from both trials.”