Researchers and medical experts worldwide are working towards finding a way to treat coronavirus.  Health experts opine that further testing is required to determine if antiviral drugs can be used to battle the growing COVID-19 menace.

Doctors in China, Japan and Thailand have reported the use of HIV drugs- Lopinavir and Ritonavir combination to treat coronavirus patients. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had previously obtained permission for the restricted use of the drug combination during the COVID-19 related public health emergency.

The HIV drug combination of Lopinavir and Ritonavir belong to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. They act by blocking a key enzyme that enables the viruses to replicate. Previous studies had found that the above-mentioned drug combination was helpful in preventing SARS- which is also a coronavirus, from maturing and replicating.

 “This is not an approved treatment for coronavirus,” the New York Post quoted the experts with the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  “We have heard of some individuals with coronavirus being treated with HIV medications. There is no vaccine or treatment approved to treat COVID-19,” mentioned the statement.

China is also conducting a human trial on the efficacy of these drugs using around 200 subjects.

The Australian researchers also claimed that HIV drugs can efficiently treat coronavirus.

“Our doctors were very, very surprised that an HIV drug could actually work against the novel coronavirus and there was a bit of skepticism. That first wave of Chinese patients we had (in Australia), they all did very, very well when they were treated with the HIV drug,” The Mint quoted the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research Director David Paterson. "That's reassuring … that we're onto something really good here."He said the drug trials and other medical-related research will commence once it would secure fundings,” he added.

Doctors in Thailand have administered these drugs alongside a hefty dose of flu medication- oseltamivir to a Chinese COVID-19 patient. Eventually, the patient tested negative within two days.

And In Japan, a Chinese patient from Wuhan was treated with just the combination of HIV drugs. Although the patient’s fever subsided within five days, she still had breathing difficulties.

“These results are encouraging, but public health experts caution that more testing is needed before concluding that the HIV drugs can effectively treat the coronavirus,” the New York Post quoted amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

Researchers receive $2.5 million in funding to test combined HIV drugs on patients. A 39-year-old Burmese migrant living with HIV shows her antiretroviral drugs to a journalist during an interview at the migrant health office of the NGO Raks Thai Foundation in the seafood industry town of Mahachai, Samut Sakhon province on Feb. 6, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha