(The New York Post) – A 62-year-old man who became Spain’s first coronavirus patient is believed to have made a full recovery after being treated with an HIV drug, according to a report.
Miguel Ángel Benítez was hospitalized at the Virgen del Rocio Hospital in Seville, where he received lopinavir-ritonavir, an antiretroviral drug sold under the brand name Kaletra, according to Metro UK, which cited El Pais.
The drug — which has been used to treat HIV and AIDS for over 10 years — was combined with interferon beta, a protein that prevents cells from becoming infected and is used on people with multiple sclerosis patients, the news outlet reported.
Santiago Moreno, head of infectious diseases at the Ramón y Cajal hospital in Madrid, said the “SARS-CoV-2 protease is very similar to that of HIV,” using another name for the novel coronavirus.
“The results that we have so far regarding its use against coronaviruses are encouraging.”
Researchers in Spain cautioned that not all coronavirus patients would necessarily respond to the treatment the way Benítez did.
But a research professor at Imperial College London said that if the widely available HIV drugs prove to be successful against COVID-19 on a large scale, they could quickly be administered to the coronavirus patients.
“There is some evidence from laboratory studies that some HIV drugs might also be active against SARS-CoV-2 and a trial has been underway for a while using these drugs against MERS,” Professor Graham Cooke told Metro, referring to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
“A number of studies are looking at one drug in particular, Kaletra, but there are no results available yet. If HIV drugs did show an effect, one advantage is that it would potentially be possible to supply them quickly,” he added.