Evaluation of the effectiveness of azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients was carried out as part of the British clinical trial RECOVERY, which is studying promising drugs for coronavirus. Scientists have published interim results of the study based on data from 73% of patients.
In the study, the researchers compared the clinical performance of 2,582 hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 who received azithromycin 8 days after the onset of symptoms with a control group of 5182 patients on standard treatment. A preliminary analysis did not show a significant difference in mortality between the two groups. On the 28th day of testing, this figure was 19% for both patients who received the antibiotic and all other patients. The study also did not reveal a significant effect of azithromycin on reducing the risk of developing severe complications and on the duration of hospitalization.
“These data convincingly rule out any significant clinical benefit of azithromycin in the hospitalized COVID-19 patients we studied. However, our study does not include patients who receive treatment at home, so we cannot draw conclusions about the effectiveness of azithromycin for outpatient use, ”the authors of the study said.
Scientists called the results obtained “disappointing” because great hopes were pinned on azithromycin all over the world. However, they considered this data very important for both doctors and patients, since over-prescription of antibiotics contributes to the body’s resistance to antibacterial drugs.
Note that the uncontrolled intake of antibiotics has become a big problem during the pandemic, including in Russia, where it is still possible to purchase antibacterial drugs without a prescription. The Ministry of Health recommends the use of azithromycin for severe COVID-19 only in combination with hydroxychloroquine in a hospital setting, despite the fact that this combination has not been shown to be effective in studies and causes serious side effects.
The chief freelance specialist in clinical microbiology and antimicrobial resistance of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Roman Kozlov, believes that the prescription of antibiotics for COVID-19 is justified only if symptoms of a bacterial infection appear – purulent sputum, leukocytosis. But even in this case, treatment is unacceptable. Such medicines should be prescribed only by a doctor, and it is necessary to strictly follow his recommendations on the regimen and frequency of administration, Kozlov noted.