Chinese investigators, led by primary sponsor Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, conducted a randomized clinical trial involving hospitalized COVID-19 patients with pneumonia. They concluded that in this patient group no benefit was observed with lopinavir—ritonavir treatment beyond standard care. Although future trials may offer more comprehensive information, the results were not promising.

As no therapeutics have yet been proven effective for treating severe illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, this Chinese investigative group, funded by a Chinese agency, sought to test the efficacy of lopinavir—ritonavir. The formal title of the study: “A randomized, controlled, open-label trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of lopinavir-ritonavir in hospitalized patients with novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19). The study results were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  

What is lopinavir—ritonavir?

Although there are no proven coronavirus therapeutic agents, lopinavir was shown in the past to have some inhibitory impact against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) while ritonavir can augment lopinavir in treatment. For example, back in 2004 a combination of these two therapeutic agents apparently reduced adverse clinical outcomes (ARDS or death) and viral load for SARS patients when combined with ribavirin.

Author Notes on Results of Study

The authors of this study noted, “This randomized trial found that lopinavir-ritonavir treatment added to standard supportive care was not associated with clinical improvement or mortality in seriously ill patients with COVID-19 different from that associated with standard care alone,” the study authors concluded. “Of note, the overall mortality in this trial (22.1%) was substantially higher than the 11% to 14.5% mortality reported in initial descriptive studies of hospitalized patients with COVID-19, which indicates that we enrolled a severely ill population.”

About the Primary Sponsor: Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital

Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital is one of the city of Wuhan’s designated hospitals to admit patients infected with COVID-19.

Lead Research/Investigator

Dingyou Zhang, President, Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital 

Source: New England Journal of Medicine

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