Common, easily accessible medication could reduce severe COVID-19 symptoms

A group of blood pressure medications may hold the key to better outcomes for those with COVID-19, marking a significant breakthrough in the treatment of the virus.

An exciting new study, involving researchers from across Australia and India, will investigate whether existing blood pressure medications can reduce the risk of severe disease as well as the duration of severe symptoms.

Researchers from Royal North Shore Hospital will support a team led by Associate Professor Meg Jardine from The George Institute for Global Health.

Professor Carol Pollock, who will lead the trial at RNSH, said the CLARITY study will involve up to 600 patients over the next year.

“The trial will investigate whether a class of drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers can improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients, by interrupting the virus’ entry into the body’s cells,” she said.

“We’ll also be looking at whether these medications can protect patients against lung injury from COVID-19, a common outcome for those with severe symptoms.

“These existing blood pressure medications have already shown to reduce inflammation, and we’re hopeful they’ll reduce the risk of severe COVID disease and guide future treatment advice.”

Blood pressure medications have been used widely in the treatment of various chronic diseases for more than 30 years, and are affordable and easy to access.

“If found to be effective, these medications could be rapidly incorporated into the routine clinical care of COVID-19 patients, long before a vaccine is ready.

“This would represent a major breakthrough in the management of these patients, so we’re very keen to see the initial results of the trial.

“The project involves a tremendous national and international collaboration, and it’ll give Australia the opportunity to deliver really significant global benefits,” Prof Pollock said.

The trial has received $1.4 million from the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.