People may need longer treatment for COVID-19, study shows

Credit: Unsplash+

A recent study involving UCL researchers and published in Nature Communications suggests that the current five-day treatment regimen with the antiviral drug molnupiravir may not be sufficient to combat COVID-19 effectively.

This conclusion comes from a detailed analysis of viral samples from participants in the PANORAMIC clinical trial, which aims to evaluate potential COVID-19 treatments.

Molnupiravir, designed to introduce errors into the SARS-COV-2 virus’s genetic code, showed promise by reducing viral load more rapidly than usual care without antivirals.

Within five days, 14% of patients treated with molnupiravir had cleared the virus, compared to only 2% in the usual care group.

However, the decline in viral load slowed significantly after treatment ended, with only 48% of molnupiravir-treated patients virus-free nine days post-treatment, versus 56% of those receiving usual care.

A concerning find was the higher mutation rate in the virus from molnupiravir-treated patients, suggesting a potential for these individuals to spread mutated versions of the virus.

Professor Joseph Standing, the lead author, highlighted the risk of new variants emerging that could better evade human immune responses if widespread treatment leads to the spread of these mutations.

The study also explored the immune response in treated patients, particularly the levels of antibodies against the virus’s spike protein.

Patients who had received molnupiravir had lower antibody levels post-treatment compared to those who received usual care, suggesting a weaker immune defense against future infections.

The findings point to the need for reevaluating the treatment duration with molnupiravir and considering combination therapies with other antivirals to more effectively eliminate the virus and ensure a stronger immune response.

This research underscores the importance of adapting COVID-19 treatment strategies based on evolving evidence to prevent the spread of the virus and the emergence of new variants.

As the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, studies like these are crucial for informing treatment protocols and ensuring that antiviral therapies are as effective and safe as possible.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19, death, and how diets could help manage post-COVID syndrome.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies that low-sodium plant-based diets may prevent COVID-19 better, and results showing zinc could help reduce COVID-19 infection risk.

The research findings can be found in Nature Communications.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.