Two recent studies found positive effects of some medications on patients with COVID-19.
One, published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine on June 29, was an observational analysis of 26,508 SARS-CoV-2-positive patients treated in the Veterans Health Administration, 30% of whom were hospitalized. It looked at the associations between the patients' medication use and 30-day mortality risk.
Mortality risk was significantly lower in patients taking metformin, colchicine, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers, statins, vitamin D, antihistamines, alpha-blockers, anti-androgens, and NSAIDs. The study also looked at combinations of drugs, finding the greatest reductions in mortality risk with statins and metformin (adjusted relative risk [aRR], 0.21; 95% CI, 0.15 to 0.31), followed by ACE inhibitors and statins (aRR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.18 to 0.35), ACE inhibitors and metformin (aRR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.17 to 0.40), antihistamines and NSAIDs (aRR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.52), and, in men, combined alpha-blockers and antiandrogens (aRR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.64).
“Our findings suggest that these generally safe medications and drug pairs should not be discontinued in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients and could be beneficial for reducing mortality. Controlled clinical trials of promising therapies may assess their therapeutic benefit,” the study authors concluded.
The other study, published by Clinical Infectious Diseases on June 28, was an open-label trial of adding interferon beta-1b to remdesivir in high-risk adults hospitalized for COVID-19 in Hong Kong. All 212 patients received remdesivir, 200 mg on day 1 followed by 100 mg daily on days 2 to 5; half also received interferon beta-1b, 16 million units daily for five days. The primary endpoint was the time to complete alleviation of symptoms (defined as a NEWS2 score of 0). The group that received interferon beta-1b met that endpoint significantly faster than controls (4 days vs. 6.5 days; P<0.0001). No patients died in either group. The study authors concluded that early treatment with interferon beta-1b and remdesivir was safe and better than remdesivir alone in alleviating symptoms and shortening viral shedding and hospitalization in high-risk COVID-19 patients. They noted that “early replacement of interferon might counteract the suppressive effect of SARS-CoV-2 on the innate immunity and also the effect of these interferon-blocking antibodies which allowed an early and effective suppression of SARS-CoV-2 replication and expedited viral clearance.”