Common antibiotic azithromycin has been found not to have any effect on treating COVID-19, according to a new study published in the medical journal, The Lancet.
The study showed that the drug had no effect on patients admitted to hospitals. It could not reduce deaths or duration of hospital stays. The drug was also found not to be able to reduce the ventilation rate of patients in the hospital, 28 days after receiving the drug.
A total of 7,763 patients aged between 18 and 80 took part in the study. Participants in the study either received standard care alone or got standard care in addition to 500mg of Azithromycin for 10 days. The trial took part in 176 hospitals in the UK as part of the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) platform.
This is the fourth drug that has been found to have no effect on COVID-19 under the RECOVERY trial. It joins other drugs such as malaria hydroxychloroquine, Ebola drug Remdesvir and antiretroviral drug combination lopinavir-ritonavir. So far, only dexamethasone and rheumatoid arthritis drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab have shown to have any kind of effect on the virus.
The drug was chosen as a possible COVID-19 treatment due to its ability to regulate or normalise the immune system; which would enable the body’s immune system fight virus.
In Uganda, the drug has been commonly used by both hospitalised patients and asymptomatic ones receiving care at home. A complete dose of six tablets costs on average Shs 30,000.