A UC San Francisco study has found that the antibiotic azithromycin was no more effective than a placebo in preventing symptoms of COVID-19 among non-hospitalized patients, and may increase their chance of hospitalization, despite widespread prescription of the antibiotic for the disease.
Azithromycin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, is widely prescribed as a treatment for COVID-19 in the United States and the rest of the world. “The hypothesis is that it has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent progression if treated early in the disease,” said Oldenburg. “We did not find this to be the case.”
The study included 263 participants who all tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 within seven days before entering the study. None were hospitalized at the time of enrollment. In a random selection process, 171 participants received a single, 1.2 gram oral dose of azithromycin and 92 received an identical placebo.
At day 14 of the study, 50 percent of the participants remained symptom-free in both groups. By day 21, five of the participants who received azithromycin had been hospitalized with severe symptoms of COVID-19 and none of the placebo group had been hospitalized.
The researchers concluded that treatment with a single dose of azithromycin compared to placebo did not result in greater likelihood of being symptom-free.
The study, which was conducted in collaboration with Stanford University, appears in the JAMA.
Release date: 16 July 2021
Source: University of California – San Francisco