Infect Dis Ther. 2021 Jul 23. doi: 10.1007/s40121-021-00493-9. Online ahead of print.
Ribavirin is an inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase inhibitor with demonstrated activity against coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Five hospitalized patients with COVID-19 (confirmed by positive tests for SARS-CoV-2) received treatment with ribavirin for inhalation solution (ribavirin aerosol) as part of a compassionate use program. Patients included four men and one woman, with an age range of 29-72 years. Patients were managed according to international and Italian treatment guidelines for COVID-19. In addition, therapy with ribavirin aerosol 100 mg/mL was administered for 30 min twice daily for 6 days (i.e., 12 doses) in all patients. In order to address concerns about a possible increase in viral dispersal with the use of a nebulizer, healthcare providers remained outside the patient room during ribavirin aerosol administration. Pretreatment chest computed tomography (CT) scans showed pseudonodular areas of parenchymal thickening in the upper right lobe with associated ground glass opacities, multiple areas of parenchymal consolidation in both lower lobes with associated ground glass opacities, bilateral parenchymal thickening and multiple associated ground glass areas, or focal ground glass areas in the upper lobes bilaterally, which were almost completely resolved (three patients) or moderately cleared (one patient) on imaging at the end of ribavirin treatment. For a fifth patient, CT scans showed a stable pulmonary picture at the end of ribavirin treatment. No adverse reactions to ribavirin treatment were observed in any of the five patients. All patients recovered fully, and nasopharyngeal swabs obtained after hospital discharge tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. Ribavirin aerosol appears to be efficacious in the treatment of patients with COVID-19. A controlled trial of ribavirin aerosol is ongoing and will provide additional data across a broader patient population.