Azithromycin no more effective against COVID-19 than placebo: Study
The commonly prescribed antibiotic for COVID-19, azithromycin, is no more effective than a placebo in preventing the viral disease among non-hospitalized patients, and may in fact increase their chance of hospitalization, a study has found. The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included 263 participants who all tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 within seven days before entering the study.
171 participants administered azithromycin and 92 received an identical placebo
The researchers at the University of California and Stanford University randomly selected 171 participants to receive a single, 1.2-gram oral dose of azithromycin and 92 received an identical placebo. On day 14 of the study, 50 percent of the participants remained symptom-free in both groups. None of the participants were hospitalized at the time of enrolment.
There was no major difference in the results
By day 21, five of the participants who received azithromycin had been hospitalized with severe symptoms of COVID-19 and none of the placebo group had been hospitalized. "Among outpatients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, treatment with a single dose of oral azithromycin compared with placebo did not result in a greater likelihood of being free of symptoms at day 14," the authors wrote in the study.
Azithromycin does not help prevent progression of COVID-19
"These findings do not support the routine use of azithromycin for outpatient SARS-CoV-2 infection," said study lead author Catherine E. Oldenburg, an assistant professor at UCSF. "The hypothesis is that it has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent progression if treated early in the disease. We did not find this to be the case," Oldenburg said.
One of the first placebo-controlled studies around azithromycin
Azithromycin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, is widely prescribed as a treatment for COVID-19 around the world. Most of the trials done so far with azithromycin have focused on hospitalized patients with pretty severe disease, the researchers said. "Our paper is one of the first placebo-controlled studies showing no role for azithromycin in outpatients," Oldenburg added further.