Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is currently the major public health problem worldwide. Neutral electrolyzed saline solution that contains reactive chlorine and oxygen species may be an effective therapeutic. In the present study, the treatment efficacy of intravenous and/or nebulized neutral electrolyzed saline combined with usual medical care vs. usual medical care alone was evaluated in ambulatory patients with COVID-19. A prospective, 2-arm, parallel-group, randomized, open-label, multi-center, phase I-II clinical trial including 214 patients was performed. The following two outcomes were evaluated during the 20-day follow-up: i) The number of patients with disease progression; and ii) the patient acceptable symptom state. Serial severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 naso/oro-pharyngeal detection by reverse transcription-quantitative (RT-q) PCR was performed in certain patients of the experimental group. Biochemical and hematologic parameters, as well as adverse effects, were also evaluated in the experimental group. The experimental treatment decreased the risk of hospitalization by 89% [adjusted relative risk (RR)=0.11, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.03-0.37, P<0.001] and the risk of death by 96% (adjusted RR=0.04, 95% CI: 0.01-0.42, P=0.007) and also resulted in an 18-fold higher probability of achieving an acceptable symptom state on day 5 (adjusted RR=18.14, 95% CI: 7.29-45.09, P<0.001), compared with usual medical care alone. Overall, neutral electrolyzed saline solution was better than usual medical care alone. Of the patients analyzed, >50% were negative for the virus as detected by RT-qPCR in naso/oro-pharyngeal samples on day 4, with only a small number of positive patients on day 6. Clinical improvement correlated with a decrease in C-reactive protein, aberrant monocytes and increased lymphocytes and platelets. Cortisol and testosterone levels were also evaluated and a decrease in cortisol levels and an increase in the testosterone-cortisol ratio were observed on days 2 and 4. The experimental treatment produced no serious adverse effects. In conclusion, neutral electrolyzed saline solution markedly reduced the symptomatology and risk of progression in ambulatory patients with COVID-19. The present clinical trial was registered in the Cuban public registry of clinical trials (RPCEC) database (May 5, 2020; no. TX-COVID19: RPCEC00000309).
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; immune system; inflammation; neutral electrolyzed saline; reactive chlorine species; reactive oxygen species; treatment.
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