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Scientists are trying to find out if PrEP could help beat coronavirus, but they aren’t exactly full of hope

Patrick Kelleher March 30, 2020
HIV, Truvada PrEP coronavirus

Truvada, a branded version of PrEP. (Getty)

Scientists will test components of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to see if it could help beat coronavirus, but they aren’t expecting much success.

Gilead Sciences, the company that manufactures PrEP drug Truvada, has said that it is preparing to test parts of the HIV-preventing drug to see if could help in the fight against COVID-19.

Sonia Choi, vice president for public affairs at Gilead Sciences, told the Washington Blade that they are planning to run some tests, but said the drug has previously proven ineffective at combating other diseases.

Scientists will test PrEP to see if it could help beat coronavirus, but it has previously proven ineffective for other viruses.

“We are planning to assess the in vitro antiviral activity of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC), the components of Truvada, against coronaviruses,” Choi said.

“However, based on in vitro testing against other RNA viruses including Ebola virus, hepatitis C virus, respiratory syncytial virus and bovine viral diarrhea virus, we do not expect to observe antiviral activity of TDF or FTC against coronaviruses,” she added.

We are planning to assess the in vitro antiviral activity of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC), the components of Truvada, against coronaviruses.

The company has not yet announced when and how they intend to test PrEP against coronavirus.

The move comes as COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe. There are now more than 700,000 confirmed cases and over 30,000 people have died from the virus.

Scientists have not yet discovered a cure or effective treatment that can save lives, and there is currently no vaccine, meaning the highly contagious virus is spreading rapidly throughout the world.

Hopes that antiretroviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV could be used for those with COVID-19 were recently dashed.

However, some scientists have hoped that years of HIV research could help beat COVID-19 – but so far, HIV treatment has yielded no results for those with coronavirus.

A recent medical trial in Wuhan, China – where the coronavirus originated – found that antiretroviral drugs given to people with HIV had no clear effect on mortality rates or the viral load of those with the virus.

In their conclusions, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors wrote that “no benefit was observed with lopinavir-ritonavir treatment beyond standard care”.

They noted that further trials are necessary “to confirm or exclude the possibility of a treatment benefit”.

More: Coronavirus, COVID-19, HIV, PrEP

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