The drug did not show benefits in keeping patients alive, reducing the amount of virus in patients, or shortening their hospital stays.
The test of Chinese patients with severe COVID-19 found the 99 who received Kaletra, a combination of HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, fared no better than the 100 who received standard care.
Meanwhile, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday stated that the treatment is not effective, OnManorama report said. "The treatment is based on the seriousness of the patient".
At the end of the 14-day trial, there was no significant difference in mortality rates or the viral loads of patients between those who were given the drugs and those who only received standard care.
The treatment "was not associated with clinical improvement or mortality in seriously ill patients with COVID-19 different from that associated with standard care alone", concluded the team, led by Dr. Bin Cao of the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Diseases.
However, this trial was open-label, and since the endpoints were being evaluated or influenced by clinicians who were aware of treatment assignment, they were susceptible to potential bias'. The combination of the anti-HIV drugs was used on several patients in China's Wuhan, and has reportedly also been tested on patients in Rajasthan and Odisha.
The test "was a heroic effort", Dr. Lindsey Baden and Dr. Eric J. Rubin, editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, said in a Journal editorial.
DRUG trials on Covid-19 patients in China yielded mixed results, with an HIV pill showing little benefit and a flu medication made by Fujifilm Holdings Corp resulting in faster clearance of the virus.
In answering why Kaletra didn't work, they write that this trial focused on a "particularly challenging patient population" and the HIV drug isn't especially potent against this novel coronavirus.
However, this data set is incomplete, as the lopinavir-ritonavir treatment was stopped early in 13.8% of these patients because of adverse events.
Patients on Kaletra had a median time in the intensive care unit of 6 days compared to 11 days for the control group.
However, doctors noted those who saw improvements after receiving the drugs did so within 12 days of COVID-19 symptoms appearing.