A Promising Treatment for COVID-19

Newly published results of a Hebrew University of Jerusalem study into the treatment of severe COVID-19 infections are “dramatic” according to Prof Yaakov Nahmias. He led the team involved in the study, in collaboration with Prof Shlomo Maayan of the Barzilai Medical Centre and supported by Abbott Laboratories.

Fifteen severe COVID-19 patients in the study were treated with the fenofibrate drug TriCor. Fourteen were able to come off oxygen support within a week and were released from hospital, the fifteenth came off oxygen support within ten days.

Those fifteen patients all had pneumonia, were in the older age group and had additional health problems ranging from diabetes and obesity to high blood pressure.

In describing the results as dramatic, Prof Nahmias said that one of the hallmarks of deteriorative COVID-19 dropped significantly within just 48 hours of treatment. Generally, less than 30 percent of severely ill patients can come off oxygen support within a week. So fenofibrate shows potential to significantly shorten the treatment time for patients who are severely ill with COVID-19.

Fenofibrate is an oral medication that was approved by the FDA years ago for the treatment of high cholesterol and high fatty acid levels. It costs less than $1.50 a day, meaning a ten-day course of treatment costs around $15 per patient.

While the results are promising, the research team stressed the need for randomized placebo-controlled studies to produce results that can be the basis for clinical decisions. They are actively recruiting patients for the second phase of the study and Phase 3 studies are already being conducted in South America, the United States and Israel.

Here is Prof Nahmias describing the virus, the illness it causes, and the results of the study: