Though the world continues its search for both a treatment and a vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus, scientists have claimed that at least one potential treatment might be a cheap and readily accessible drug commonly used for headaches and fevers: aspirin.
According to The Guardian, thousands of patients who have currently tested positive for COVID-19 will be given the common medication to see if the painkiller can reduce the risk of blood clots, a common side effect of the virus.
Researchers noted that people infected with COVID-19 often have hyper-reactive platelets. Platelets are normally an important part of a functioning immune system and help stop bleeding, but if they become too active, blood clots can occur. The clots can lead to even more serious health problems, such as heart attacks or strokes.
Since aspirin is a blood thinner, doctors are hoping that its effect will offset the hyperactive platelets and prevent clotting and other cardiac issues.
"Aspirin is widely used to prevent blood clots in many other conditions, including heart attack, stroke, and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women," explained Martin Landray, co-chief investigator of the trial.
In addition to helping with strokes and heart attacks, aspirin has also been found to reduce the risk of certain cancers. In fact, a small daily dose of the drug, often marketed as baby aspirin, is a common regimen in healthy older adults.
That said, experts now recommend a consultation with a doctor before taking the medication due to the dual risks of kidney damage and internal bleeding associated with long-term use.
Though Landray acknowledged the potential risks, he expressed his hope that the benefit of treating the coronavirus would outweigh any side effects.
"Enrolling patients in a randomized trial such as Recovery is the only way to assess whether there are clear benefits for patients with COVID-19 and whether those benefits outweigh any potential side-effects such as the risk of bleeding," he added.
At least 2,000 patients will take 150 mg of aspirin each day while being treated for the disease. Their results will then be compared to those who received standard treatment without any other adjunctive therapies. The test is part of the Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Recovery Therapy trial, which is one of the largest coronavirus initiatives in the U.K.
The study comes as the country is bracing for a second wave of the virus, prompting Prime Minister Boris Johnson to enact severe new lockdown measures.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is under fire for knowingly sending out faulty testing kits back in February, per The Inquisitr.