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Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye says Malaysia’s infectious disease specialists will continue to be guided by evidence based on treatment experience elsewhere, including from China, which has the largest number of cases. - NSTP file pic
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye says Malaysia’s infectious disease specialists will continue to be guided by evidence based on treatment experience elsewhere, including from China, which has the largest number of cases. - NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Further studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of HIV anti-retroviral medication Kaletra in treating the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the Health Ministry said.

This came following the recovery of Malaysia’s fourth 2019-nCoV patient, who was given offlabel use of Kaletra to treat his worsening infection.

“The success of Kaletra in a single case will require further studies to verify its usefulness.

“Our infectious disease specialists will continue to be guided by evidence based on treatment experience elsewhere, including from China, which has the largest number of cases,” Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye told the New Straits Times yesterday.

The man, 40, from China got infected on Jan 24 and had high fever and pneumonia.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had said the man’s condition worsened on the second day of being admitted to Permai Hospital in Johor Baru and he required oxygen assistance.

“A chest X-ray done on the fourth day showed that his infection had worsened. The hospital began treatment with Kaletra (off-label use) on Jan 28.

“After eight days of treatment, his condition improved and he recovered,” he said on Saturday.

It was reported that Chinese doctors used anti-HIV drugs on coronavirus patients in Beijing, based on a 2004 study conducted during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, and had “favourable” responses.

British daily The Guardian reported that China had been using Kaletra, a combination of two anti-HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir, on patients in a trial since Jan 18.

In Thailand, a Chinese national infected with virus showed improvement after she was treated with a cocktail of anti-virals, including HIV and flu medication.

The Thai Health Ministry had said the 71-year-old woman tested negative for the virus 48 hours after doctors administered the combination.

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