Evaluating the Efficacy and Safety of the Existing Repurposed Pharmacological Agents for Treating COVID-19: A Meta-analysis and Systematic Review of Clinical Trials
Choupoo, Nang S. et al.
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Purpose: The present study systematically searched important medical databases, assessed the quality of available pieces of evidence, and performed a meta-analysis to test the efficacy of different therapeutic options currently available for treating COVID-19. Materials and methods: PubMed, CNKI, LILACS, Koreamed, WHO clinical trial registry, and medRxiv were searched since December 2019. Any observational or controlled study that tested the efficacy of any pharmacological intervention in COVID-19 patients either prospectively or retrospectively was included in the qualitative analysis. We assessed outcomes as dichotomous variables, i.e., a patient having a positive clinical outcome. Relative risks/risk ratios (RR) having a 95% confidence interval (CI) were derived. Studies conforming to inclusion criteria were pooled using the random-effect model. Results: Nine trials on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), six studies on antiviral, four studies on monoclonal antibodies, two on corticosteroids, two on convalescent plasma (CP), and one on interferon-α2b were included in the systematic review. Meta-analysis containing six scientific trials and analyzing 522 patients revealed that the relative risk of positive clinical outcomes with HCQ treatment was 1.042 (95% CI, 0.884 to 1.874) with a number needed to treat (NNT) of 12.6. A meta-analysis of two studies analyzing 285 patients showed that the relative risk of clinical resolution with lopinavir and ritonavir combination was 1.152 (95% CI 0.709 to 1.87). Out of various antiviral used, the only remdesivir showed a positive result in a case series. Monoclonal antibodies showed decreased C-reactive protein, decreased oxygen, and ventilator requirements. A corticosteroid may increase mortality with increased dose. Two small case series on CP showed some promising results. Conclusion: The study showed slightly favorable results with HCQ, monoclonal antibodies, remdesivir, and CP in treating COVID-19 patients. Further research is warranted in establishing the efficacy of studied interventions.