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The fast spread of COVID-19 has overcrowded Public Health Systems facilities in major countries due to the large number of seriously ill patients, particularly those requiring admission to intensive care units. Reducing viral load, along with other recommended epidemiological measures, such as social distancing and home confinement, can in time significantly help to reduce the infection R0 (Basic Reproductive Rate) and then mitigate disease burden.
Early negativization or otherwise reduction of the viral load can potentially diminish disease severity, resulting in a better-controlled public health response, avoiding collapse of healthcare systems. Nitazoxanide, a widely used thiazolide approved by the FDA as an antiparasitic drug, also approved in Brazil for Norovirus and Rotavirus treatments, has an excellent safety record for a variety of indications. Nitazoxanide exhibits activity in vitro against MERS-CoV and other coronaviruses; and a specific antiviral effect (in micro molar doses) against SARS-CoV-2.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Nitazoxanide in reducing the SARS-COV 2 viral load within 7 days of treatment in respiratory samples from COVID-19-infected patients with mild to moderate disease, compared to placebo.
An interim analysis showed that the ratio of patients with a viral load reduction ≥ 35% from baseline up to day 7 of treatment was significantly greater for Nitazoxanide compared to placebo (47.8% vs. 15.4%; Δ 34.6%; 95% CI: 64.7; 4.6: p = 0.037).
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