Doctors 'cure' coronavirus patient using HIV wonder drugs

Antiretroviral drugs, which were used during the Sars outbreak, have 'somewhat successfully' stopped the spread of the disease to cells

Doctors in China are claiming to have cured a patient suffering from the Wuhan coronavirus using a HIV wonder drug.

The Chinese authorities said the patient, who received the medication during a drug trial, had fully recovered and has since been discharged from hospital.

Shanghai's Municipal Health Commission said the drug "somewhat successfully" stopped the spread of the disease to cells, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The news was also carried on Wam, the UAE’s news agency.

Beijing Municipal Health Commission confirmed the use of the HIV drugs to treat patients suffering from the Wuhan coronavirus on Sunday.

Three Beijing hospitals began administering lopinavir/itonavir – two antiretroviral drugs used in combination to treat HIV – to patients suffering from the coronavirus, according to a statement published by Chinese media.

The drugs work by blocking HIV's ability to reproduce by binding to healthy cells.

The medication was used to “substantial clinical benefit” on patients suffering from Sars, another coronavirus which swept through China in 2002 and 2003.

There are seven known coronaviruses, the majority of which result in symptoms no more severe than the common cold.

However, Sars – that killed almost 800 people from 2002 to 2003 – had a fatality rate of 14 to 15 per cent. Another coronavirus, Mers, kills about 35 per cent of people it infects.

It is not yet clear how severe the Wuhan coronavirus is. There could be many infected who develop such mild symptoms they do not know they even have it. It is currently believed to be much less severe than Sars and Mers, with a fatality rate of about 3 per cent.

On Sunday, Minister of Health and Prevention Abdulrahman Al Owais, confirmed the country was free of the virus.

Mr Al Owais called on the public to rely on updated information from the government and avoid "giving heed to rumours".

On Sunday, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi issued a statement after unfounded rumours about suspected cases appeared on social media.

“Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi can assure the community that, to date, no patients have been diagnosed with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the virus originating in Wuhan, China and currently causing global concern," the hospital said.

"There are numerous forms of coronaviruses, including more prevalent human coronaviruses, and the majority of these are not considered public health risks."