A combination of two antiviral drugs commonly used to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) were found to shorten the duration of hospitalization and improve survival for people with moderate or severe COVID-19 in a set of studies in Iran, researchers reported at the virtual International AIDS Conference last week.
If larger studies now underway confirm these findings, sofosbuvir and daclatasvir could offer an affordable and widely accessible treatment option, study coauthor Andrew Hill, MD, of Liverpool University said at a press briefing. Although not closely related, HCV and SARS-CoV2 are both enveloped single-stranded RNA viruses, suggesting that some of the same antiviral drugs might work against both of them. In fact, Gilead Sciences’ COVID-19 frontrunner, remdesivir, was initially studied as a hep C candidate.
Pfizer, BioNTech Gain FDA Fast Track
Pfizer and German mRNA partner BioNTech have grabbed an FDA fast track label as they look to start a late-stage, 30,000-patient COVID-19 vaccine test before the month is out.As Moderna has been apparently squabbling with the government and making last-minute protocol changes to its late-stage effort, Pfizer and BioNTech have quietly gained some timeline ground as they, like Moderna, are now planning a July start date.The phase 2b/3 trial could start “as soon as later this month,” the partners said in a statement this morning, and they are “anticipating enrolling up to 30,000 subjects.”
The fast track comes after some initial U.S. results out earlier this month from an early clinical test of 45 patients that showed all of them who received 10 micrograms or 30 mcg of the mRNA vaccine candidate generated antibodies that were 1.8 times and 2.8 times higher, respectively, than the average of a group of patients who had confirmed prior infections, although it did come with side effects.