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First Author:  Li et al 

Journal/preprint name: Research Square 

Tags: therapeutics; interferons 

Summary 

The study by Li et al investigates the use of recombinant super compound interferon (rSIFN-co) compared to IFN-α treatment in COVID-19 patients in a single-blind, randomized trial. Specifically, the study enrolled 94 moderate-to-severe COVID-19 patients, who were also being treated with anti-viral agents. The authors found that the time to clinical improvement for the rSIFN-co group was faster (11.5 days) compared to the IFN-α group (14 days), as well as the rate of radiological improvement and negative test (for viral RNA) conversion. This study accentuates the potential for the use of rSIFN-co for the clinical management of COVID-19 patients.  

Research Highlights 

  1. Treating moderate and severe COVID-19 patients with rSIFN-co compared to IFN-α resulted in faster clinical improvement  

  1. The rate of improvement in radiological tests was accelerated for patients on rSIFN-co treatment compared to IFN-α 

  1. Patients treated with rSIFN-co had a negative test faster 

Impact for COVID-19 research: 

This research is interesting in light of a study showing that severe COVID-19 patients have low IFN-α levels (Hadjadj, Science, 2020). Together, these results highlight the dampened type I interferon response in COVID-19 patients with severe disease, and that therapeutics reversing this might benefit patients. This investigation could aid disease management, although it would be important to assess the effects of using rSIFN-co in comparison to a placebo prior to extensive administration.  

Methodologies: 

  • Study TypeClinical trial 

  • Key Techniques: SARS-CoV-2 qRT-PCR, chest CT scans 

Limitations: 

  • It would be important to include a control group (not receiving rSIFN-co or IFN-α) before extensive administration proceeds. 

  • Different concentrations of rSIFN-co (12 million IU) and IFN-α (5 million IU) were used in the study, casting some doubts about the clinical superiority of rSIFN-co, since the effects could be attributed to higher dosage.