Those on the drugs showed clinical improvement after a median of 15 days compared to 16 days with standard care, a difference researchers said was "significant, albeit modest". An article published in Indian Journal of Medical Research, the experts of ICMR and AIIMS pointed out that the ICMR has suggested lopinavir/ritonavir combination therapy for laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients based on the observational studies of clinical benefit amongst patients with SARS-CoV and MERSCoV, as well as the docking studies conducted by the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
A test in Chinese patients with severe COVID-19 disease found the 99 who received AbbVie Inc's Kaletra, a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, fared no better than the 100 who received standard care.
In their conclusions, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors wrote that "no benefit was observed with lopinavir-ritonavir treatment beyond standard care".
The team concluded that "lopinavir-ritonavir treatment did not significantly accelerate clinical improvement, reduce mortality, or diminish throat viral RNA detectability in patients with serious COVID-19". Other include remdesivir, an antiviral developed by Gilead Sciences, chloroquine, a genetic malaria pill, and Kevzara, an arthritis treatment made by Sanofi and Regeneron. "Health care workers in Hubei province have provided patient care in an overwhelming epidemic while they themselves are one of the highest risk groups for development of disease".
Johnson & Johnson has been testing a similar HIV drug, known as a protease inhibitor, against the novel coronavirus. Hence, lopinavir/ritonavir treatment was not administered in these patients.
However, this data set is incomplete, as the lopinavir-ritonavir treatment was stopped early in 13.8% of these patients because of adverse events.
However, doctors noted those who saw improvements after receiving the drugs did so within 12 days of COVID-19 symptoms appearing.