• A combination of two existing drugs is proving to be effective at eliminating the novel coronavirus in patients confirmed to have the infection. 
  • Treatment with both hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, and the antibiotic azithromycin dramatically shortened the recovery time for people with COVID-19. 
  • More trials on a larger scale will be needed before we know just how effective this drug combo is. 
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A specific combination of existing drugs has shown it is capable of wiping out the novel coronavirus in a small-scale study conducted in France. Doctors gave confirmed COVID-19 patients a drug cocktail that included the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin. The results of the trial were published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

A total of 30 COVID-19 patients participated in the trials. The participants were split into three groups. Ten of the patients received just the anti-malaria drug, while another group of ten receive both hydroxychloroquine in combination with the antibiotic. The third group of 10 were the control group and did not receive any treatment.

Remarkably, the anti-malaria medication proved to significantly reduce the duration of the infection in the patients who received it, but the combination of both drugs produced truly astounding results. In fact, by the fifth day of treatment, all of the patients who received the drug combo tested negative for the active virus.

The test is indeed promising, but it was so small in scale that it’s difficult to know how much stock to put in it. A much larger test would give us a more accurate idea of how effective these treatment options are, but it’s hard not to feel optimistic about it based on these results.

This is hardly the only drug trial to examine the effectiveness of existing medications on COVID-19 patients, and there have been several experimental treatments that show promise. A flu drug from Japan may be effective in treating patients, based on a report from China earlier this week, while other institutions are experimenting with the blood pressure drug losartan to see if it can prevent the virus from infecting patients in the first place.

What allowed the COVID-19 pandemic to cause such a disruption in our lives is that we know so little about it. No, it’s not the most deadly virus in the world, not by a long shot, but it’s extremely contagious and spreads rapidly through a population. Finding drugs that work to combat that spread is vital, and it’s only natural that we try existing options first while other drugs built specifically for this illness are in development.

For now, practicing social distancing and heeding the advice of health officials to stay home and avoid each other are the most important things we can do to slow the outbreak. Giving our healthcare systems room to breathe and not burying hospitals under a flood of patients will help mitigate serious consequences, and that responsibility is shared equally by all of us.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.