Painkiller aspirin will be evaluated as a possible treatment for COVID-19 in one of Britain's biggest trials, which will assess whether it might reduce the risk of blood clots in people with the disease.
The scientists behind the RECOVERY trial, which is looking into a range of potential treatments for COVID-19, said it would include the drug, which is commonly used as a blood thinner.
"There is a clear rationale for believing that it (aspirin) might be beneficial, and it is safe, inexpensive and widely available," said Peter Horby, co-chief investigator of the trial.
Patients infected with the coronavirus are at a higher risk of blood clots because of hyper-reactive platelets, the cell fragments that help stop bleeding. Aspirin is an antiplatelet agent and can reduce the risk of clots, the RECOVERY trial's website said on Friday.
At least 2,000 patients are expected to randomly get 150 mg of aspirin daily along with the usual regimen. 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 website showed.
Small daily doses of aspirin has been found to reduce the risk of certain cancers. As a blood thinner, it 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 antibody cocktail that was used to treat U.S. President Donald Trump's COVID-19 symptoms.
Unlike Gilead's remdesivir, which has been approved as a COVID-19 treatment in the United States but has shown poor results in a large World Health Organization trial, aspirin is a generic drug, making it much cheaper.
The RECOVERY trial was the first to show that dexamethasone, a steroid which is also cheap and widely available, could save lives of people severely ill with COVID-19.
It also showed that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, once touted by Trump, was of no benefit in treating COVID-19 patients.
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