The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-supported RECOVERY trial has found no clinical benefit from the antibiotic azithromycin for hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19.
Azithromycin is an antibiotic known for its anti-inflammatory properties which is already used to treat chronic inflammatory lung disease, or chest infections such as pneumonia.
Inflammation, caused by an overly-active immune response, is a key feature of severe COVID-19. Azithromycin was considered a potential treatment for COVID-19 and investigated through an arm of the RECOVERY trial to assess whether the drug had a meaningful benefit amongst hospitalised patients with COVID-19.
A preliminary analysis of the data has shown no meaningful clinical benefit of azithromycin in the hospitalised COVID-19 patients randomised to this treatment arm. The data showed no significant difference in the primary endpoint of 28-day mortality (19% azithromycin vs. 19% usual care). While researchers found no evidence of beneficial effects on the risk of progression to mechanical ventilation or length of hospital stay.
The results were consistent in different subgroups of patients. However it is not possible to make conclusions about the effectiveness of azithromycin in patients in the community.