Anti-malarial drug shows promise in treating Covid-19

·1-min read
Scientists modelled the effectiveness of mefloquine to predict its potential use if applied to treat covid-19 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Scientists modelled the effectiveness of mefloquine to predict its potential use if applied to treat covid-19 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

As governments around the world race to vaccinate their populations, scientists in Japan are exploring innovative ways of using existing medicines to treat Covid-19 patients.

In a breakthrough study, a team of Japanese scientists from leading universities and research institutions have discovered an anti-malarial drug, mefloquine — a derivative of hydrochloroquine — as an effective cure against SARS-CoV-2 - a novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

The scientists also mathematically modelled the effectiveness of mefloquine to predict its potential use if applied to treat Covid-19. They calculated that mefloquine could reduce the overall viral load in affected patients to under seven per cent and shorten the time taken to eliminate the virus to 6.1 days.

This study is expected to undergo clinical trials.

Some approved drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and interferon, have already been put to clinical use against SARS-CoV-2 without establishing their clinical efficacy.

Only remdesivir, which was developed to treat Hepatitis C, has been approved for clinical use against severe Covid-19, although its effectiveness is still being challenged.

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