The man who became Spain’s first coronavirus patient has reportedly made full recovery after being treated with an HIV and MS drug.
62-year-old Miguel Ángel Benítez was hospitalized at the Virgen del Rocio Hospital in Seville, where he received lopinavir-ritonavir, an antiretroviral drug sold under the brand name Kaletra, according to Metro UK, which cited El Pais.
The drug, which has been used to treat HIV and AIDS for over 10 years — was combined with interferon beta, a protein that prevents cells from becoming infected and is used on people with multiple sclerosis patients, the news outlet reported.
Santiago Moreno, head of infectious diseases at the Ramón y Cajal hospital in Madrid, said the “SARS-CoV-2 protease is very similar to that of HIV,” using another name for the novel coronavirus.
“This enzyme is essential for the virus to replicate. The combination of lopinavir and ritonavir inhibits and blocks HIV,” he said, according to Metro.
“The results that we have so far regarding its use against coronaviruses are encouraging.”
According to Spanish Researchers, not all coronavirus patients would necessarily respond to the treatment the way Benítez did. But a research professor at Imperial College London said that if the HIV drugs prove to be a success against COVID-19 on a large scale, they could quickly administer it to other coronavirus patients.
“There is some evidence from laboratory studies that some HIV drugs might also be active against SARS-CoV-2 and a trial has been underway for a while using these drugs against MERS,” Professor Graham Cooke told Metro, referring to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
“A number of studies are looking at one drug in particular, Kaletra, but there are no results available yet. If HIV drugs did show an effect, one advantage is that it would potentially be possible to supply them quickly,” he added.