Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) have discovered that the cheap and widely used drug, heparin, when inhaled can be a uniquely effective prevention and treatment method for COVID-19.
Heparin is currently used to prevent blood from clotting and it is typically administered through an injection.
However, early results of an ANU clinical study show that inhaling heparin helps prevent those with COVID-19 from developing lung damage and shows promise in protecting people from getting the virus.
The results were collected from trials conducted in American hospitals where researchers monitored the effect inhaled heparin had on patients hospitalized with COVID-19, to determine the drug’s ability to combat the virus and its safety.
The study found that after inhaling a course of heparin the breathing and oxygen levels of 70 percent of the subjects improved, along with their symptoms according to the World Health Organization COVID symptoms scale.
There were 98 patients studied in the early trials, with the average age of the subjects being 66. There were also slightly more men than women in the study.
The ANU is still conducting multiple other clinical trials in 11 more countries but researchers have said the initial results are promising.
Lead researcher of the study, Prof. Frank van Haren, said in an ANU news release that heparin if proven effective and safe, could majorly impact the world’s fight against COVID-19.
“This drug is already available in hospitals all over the world and it is a very inexpensive drug,” van Haren said.
“This could really assist in poorer countries where vaccination is challenging and we think it could help front line workers who could use it as a preventative measure.”
Prof. van Haren said that an effective treatment of COVID-19 is still needed and that the majority of experts on COVID-19 agree that the pandemic will not be stopped by vaccinations alone.
“Inhaled heparin is a promising new possibility to provide a low-cost, safe and effective treatment for COVID-19 that is available and affordable to low and middle-income countries around the globe.”
He said that once heparin is proved to be safe and effective, inhaled heparin could be used everywhere as a treatment for the virus, within months.
By Lily Kelly