First drugs to treat coronavirus could be available as early as June, scientists say

The first treatment for coronavirus could be ready by next month, scientists have said, after trialling drugs, including HIV therapies and antimalarials, to see if they can reverse the disease.

More than 10,000 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus have been involved in the Recovery trial, which has been assessing whether five medications, which are already in use for other conditions, could help with Covid-19.

The first results are due in late June and if successful researchers say they could be rolled out across the NHS immediately.

All the drugs are all already licensed for other uses so do not need to go through regulation.

“Because of the types of drugs we’ve chosen that should change practice very, very rapidly,” said Professor Martin Landray of Oxford University, the deputy chief investigator of the trial, at an online briefing. 

“Doctors will be free to prescribe those drugs. There should be essentially no delay. The drugs should be used straight away.”

The drugs being tested are lopinavir-ritonavir, a commonly used treatment for HIV, dexamethasone, a type of steroid that reduces inflammation, and hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial championed by Donald Trump.

There is also the antibiotic azithromycin, a commonly used antibiotic, and tocilizumab, an anti-inflammatory treatment given by injection.

Professor Landray said thousands of lives could be saved if a drug could reduce fatalities even by one fifth, however he believes that combination therapies may be needed.

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