Thousands of coronavirus patients in Britain will be given aspirin as part of a trial to determine whether the painkiller can reduce the risk of dangerous blood clots.
By Aaron Walawalkar
The cheap and widely available drug has been added to a list of potential treatments to be tested as part of the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 therapy (Recovery) trial, one of the biggest in Britain.
People infected with coronavirus seem to have hyper-reactive platelets, the cell fragments that help stop bleeding, which means that they are at higher risk of potentially deadly blood clots, scientists say.
Experts hope that aspirin, an anti-platelet agent which is commonly used as a blood thinner, can reduce the possibility of clotting complications.
“Aspirin is widely used to prevent blood clots in many other conditions, including heart attack, stroke, and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women,” said Prof Martin Landray, co-chief investigator of the trial.
“But enrolling patients in a randomised trial such as Recovery is the only way to assess whether there are clear benefits for patients with Covid-19 and whether those benefits outweigh any potential side-effects such as the risk of bleeding.”
At least 2,000 patients are expected to get 150mg of aspirin daily along with the usual regimen. Data from those patients will be compared with at least 2,000 other patients who receive the standard Covid-19 treatment on its own.
Small daily doses of aspirin have been found to reduce the risk of certain cancers. As a blood thinner, it increases the risk of internal bleeding, and taking too much over a long period of time has been associated with kidney damage.
Other treatments being tested in the Recovery trial include antibody-rich plasma collected from recovered Covid-19 patients, and Regeneron’s antibody cocktail that was used to treat Donald Trump’s Covid-19 symptoms.
The decision to add aspirin to this list was made by the Oxford University researchers leading the trial and England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, following a recommendation by the UK Covid-19 Therapeutics Advisory Panel.
Unlike Gilead’s remdesivir, which has been approved as a Covid-19 treatment in the US but has shown poor results in a large World Health Organization trial, aspirin is a generic drug, making it much cheaper.
The Recovery trial was the first to show that dexamethasone, a steroid that is also cheap and widely available, could save lives of people severely ill with Covid-19. It also showed that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, once touted by Trump as a cure, was of no benefit in treating Covid-19 patients.
Originally published at The guardian