By Kelly Young
Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and André Sofair, MD, MPH
A triple therapy that includes interferon β-1b shortened the duration of viral shedding in patients with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to a phase 2 randomized trial in the Lancet.
Roughly 125 adults in Hong Kong who were hospitalized for COVID-19 were randomized to receive 14 days of either a triple therapy of lopinavir-ritonavir, ribavirin, and interferon β-1b or lopinavir-ritonavir (control group). Patients in the triple therapy group only received interferon if they presented within 7 days of symptom onset.
The time to negative nasopharyngeal swab tests — the primary endpoint — was significantly shorter in the combination therapy group (7 vs. 12 days). The combination group also had better clinical outcomes, including shorter time to symptom alleviation (4 vs. 8 days) and shorter median hospital stay (9 vs. 15 days). Adverse events were similar between groups. In a subgroup analysis, patients in the combination therapy group who did not receive interferon did not have better outcomes than the control group.
In a Clinical Conversations podcast, the study’s first author, Dr. Ivan Hung, says that interferon may be the backbone of this treatment.