Aspirin to be tested as potential ‘inexpensive’ coronavirus treatment in major UK trial

Patients with Covid-19 are at a higher risk of blood clots due to hyper-reactive platelets, the cell fragments which help stop bleeding, and aspirin is an antiplatelet agent which can reduce the risk of clots, according to the RECOVERY trial.

The painkiller aspirin will be tested as a possible treatment for coronavirus in a major UK trial to assess whether it might reduce the risk of blood clots in people with Covid-19.

The RECOVERY trial, which is investigating a range of potential treatments for the disease, said on Friday that it would look into the drug, which is commonly used as a blood thinner.

“We felt it was particularly important to add aspirin to the trial since there is a clear rationale for believing that it might be beneficial and it is safe, inexpensive and widely available,” Peter Horby, co-chief investigator for the trial, said.

“We are looking for medicines for Covid-19 that can be used immediately by anyone, anywhere in the world. We do not know if aspirin is such a medicine but we will find out.”

At least 2,000 patients are expected to randomly get 150mg of aspirin daily along with the usual treatment for the disease.

Data from those patients will be compared with at least 2,000 other patients who receive the standard Covid-19 treatment on its own, the trial said.

Professor Martin Landray, a co-leader of the trial, said aspirin was already used to prevent blood clots in conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.

He added: “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.”

As a blood thinner, aspirin 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 common antibiotic azithromycin and Regeneron’s experimental antibody cocktail which was used to treat Donald Trump when he contracted the virus.

Earlier this year, the UK trial was the first to show that dexamethasone, a steroid which is cheap and widely available, could save lives of people severely ill with Covid-19.

The research project also showed that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, once promoted by Mr Trump, was not useful for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

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