Efficacy of chloroquine versus lopinavir/ritonavir in mild/general COVID-19 infection: a prospective, open-label, multicenter, randomized controlled clinical study
Liu, Xi et al.
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Background: The outbreak of COVID-19 (caused by SARS-Cov-2) is very serious, and no effective antiviral treatment has yet been confirmed. The adage “old drug, new trick” in this context may suggest the important therapeutic potential of existing drugs. We found that the lopinavir/ritonavir treatment recommended in the fifth edition of the Treatment Plan of China can only help to improve a minority of throat-swab nucleic-acid results (3/15) in hospitals. Our previous use of chloroquine to treat patients with COVID-19 infection showed an improvement in more throat-swab nucleic-acid results (5/10) than the use of lopinavir/ritonavir. Methods/design: This is a prospective, open-label, randomized controlled, multicenter clinical study. The study consists of three phases: a screening period, a treatment period of no more than 10 days, and a follow-up period for each participant. Participants with COVID-19 infection who are eligible for selection for the study will be randomly allocated to the trial group or the control group. The control group will be given lopinavir/ritonavir treatment for no more than 10 days. The trial group will be given chloroquine phosphate treatment for no more than 10 days. The primary outcome is the clinical recovery time at no more than 28 days after the completion of therapy and follow-up. The secondary outcomes include the rate of treatment success after the completion of therapy and follow-up, the time of treatment success after no more than 28 days, the rate of serious adverse events during the completion of therapy and follow-up, and the time to return to normal temperature (calculated from the onset of illness) during the completion of therapy and follow-up. Comparisons will be performed using two-sided tests with a statistical significance level of 5%. Discussion: This experiment should reveal the efficacy and safety of using chloroquine versus lopinavir/ritonavir for patients with mild/general COVID-19 infection. If the new treatment including chloroquine shows a higher rate of throat-swab SARS-CoV-2 real-time fluorescent reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) negativity and is safe, it could be tested as a future COVID-19 treatment.