1. Health & Lifestyle

Speedy Recovery of COVID-19 Patients could be Possible by Using this Antiviral Drug

KJ Staff
KJ Staff

A study which has been published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, treatment with the drug interferon (IFN) - α2b may significantly accelerate virus clearance and reduce levels of inflammatory proteins in COVID-19 patients. An international team of researchers have found that this already known drug can significantly accelerate the recovery of patients suffering from Coronavirus.  

This drug has been in clinical use already for so many years and they found that it significantly reduced the duration of detectable virus in the upper respiratory tract, on average by about seven days. It also reduced blood levels of interleukin (IL)-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP), two inflammatory proteins found in COVID-19 patients. 

The researchers have conducted this study on a group of 77 patients who were suffering from COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. They represented moderate cases of the disease as none of the patients required intensive care or prolonged oxygen supplementation or intubation. 

Dr. Eleanor Fish professor in the University of Toronto, Canada who is also the lead researcher of this study said that “Rather than developing a virus-specific antiviral for each new virus outbreak, we should consider interferons as the 'first responders' in terms of treatment". She explained that in response to all viruses, human body releases interferons which are a group of proteins. They are signaling molecules which help in communication between cells and tissues, and are the “first line of defense”. 

However, the scientists said that this natural defense mechanism can be blocked by some viruses. Responding to this Dr. Fish said that “It is possible to override this block. If a virus blocks interferon production, then treating with interferon can offset this”.

According to Dr. Fish, a randomized clinical trial is a crucial next step. She said the findings are the first to suggest therapeutic efficacy of IFN-α2b as an available antiviral intervention for COVID-19, which may also benefit public health measures by shortening the duration of viral clearance. 

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