The King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) conducted the third phase of a clinical study related to the treatment of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The study, the first in the world, was conducted in nine hospitals in the Kingdom involving 95 patients. Out of the total patients, 43 were assigned to the intervention group and 52 to the placebo group.
The hospitals that participated in this study are the following: King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh, King Abdulaziz Medical City in Jeddah, King Abdulaziz Medical City in Al-Ahsa, Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Hospital in Riyadh, Armed Forces Hospital in Riyadh, King Abdullah Medical Complex in Jeddah, King Fahd Hospital in Hafouf, Asir Central Hospital, and King Khaled Hospital in Najran.
As part of the study, 43 patients were administered recombinant interferon beta-1b plus lopinavir-ritonavir, two antivirals together, for 14 days while 52 were given a placebo for the same period.
The study revealed the effectiveness of antivirals, as the death rate decreased to 28 percent compared to 44 percent in the group that did not take treatment, and the death rate decreased to 80 percent if treatment was used during the first seven days of the onset of symptoms.
It is noteworthy that there is no approved treatment by the scientific bodies for MERS, the first case of which appeared in 2012 Saudi Arabia, and the virus spread to 27 countries. However, most of the cases were reported in the Kingdom with the death rate among critical cases ranging from 34 to 70 percent.
The study data was also reviewed by a committee devoted to monitoring the study and made up of international experts.