Is about a cocktail that includes a drug for malaria and rheumatoid arthritis and an antiviral that HIV patients use.
It was an idea of the renowned infectologist Oriol Mitja and began testing on Monday at the Germnas Trias Hospital in Badalona, a suburb of Barcelona. There will be 199 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus ls who will drink the cocktail for seven days. While 2,850 of their contacts will take only the malaria medicine for 4 days.
“Our hypothesis is that the viral load can be reduced in this way and, if we succeed, we could break the chain of transmission of the infection,” Oriol Mitjà told the newspaper. The vanguard.
Covid-19 is highly contagious and studies show that it can be transmitted to anyone with whom it comes in contact for 14 days. Even, the latest studies show that it can do it even in its initial latent phase when the carrier still has no symptoms or knows that he is infected.
“We also know that between 10% and 20% of contacts will become infected, up to 15% among the closest, the family members,” warns Mitja.
IF the combination of antiviral and chloroquine is successful, indicates the specialist, the infected person will cease to be infectious in fewer days and the progression of the coronavirus may be slowed. In the meantime, The medication that will be dispensed to your contacts tries, first, that you do not develop symptoms, and at the same time that you stop being infectious in that presymptomatic phase, before you know that it is positive.
“We will monitor the positives continuously because we believe that it can stop being infectious in 3 or 4 days; to the contacts, we will measure the viral load at 14 days. We will know very soon if it works and in three weeks it could be decided if we use it to help lighten containment. Mitjà stated.
“Knowing results so early, in 21 days, and using long-proven, well-priced medications, would allow rapid spread so that positives infect less and reduce contact confinement time. In the absence of a vaccine, it could be a very effective measure in any country, including those that have no way of dealing with an epidemic like this, ”said Robert Fabregat, director of research at the Catalan Department of Health.
Why two drugs? “Because they act on the growth of the virus in two different ways,” Oriol Mitjà told the Catalan newspaper. “That is one of the keys to the success of antiviral treatments in HIV, attacking on several fronts. The malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine,” has two effects: on the one hand, it inhibits the entry route of the virus into the cell and on the other, it acts against its growth within the cell. In several Chinese studies this effect is already pointed out. The antiviral, Darunavir, has an inhibitory effect on an enzyme, protease, which is inside the virus and helps it grow. “
Specialists will judge the test as a success if they reduce transmission by 15% to 5%. “10% less infected contacts could break the transmission of the infection ”.
The concern grows in Spain
Spain registered close to thousand more cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, with a total of 8,744 confirmed cases, and 297 deaths, compared to 288 the previous day, the emergency coordinator of the Ministry of Health, Fernando Simón, reported this Monday. The jump from Sunday to Monday was less than that recorded over the weekend, when between Saturday and Sunday the cases escalated by around 2,000.
The figures leave no room for doubt and show that Spain, a few days late, is going through the same situation as Italy, a country that on February 24 already had more than 100 infected (a number that Spain did not reach up to eight days later, on March 3).
On its 15th day of the epidemic, Italy reached 7,375 cases, while Spain reached 7,753 infected on its 14th day (counted since the outbreak claimed more than one hundred infections), a fact that this Monday, the 15th of the epidemic in the country rose to 8744.
Given the exponential increase in cases of the new coronavirus in recent days that have led Spain to be the second most affected country in Europe behind Italy, the government decreed Saturday night state of alarm and imposed serious movement restrictions on its inhabitants.
According to these measures, the 46 million inhabitants of Spain they can only leave their homes to buy food or medicine, go to work or take care of dependent people.