Photo Credit: Kobi Richter / TPS
Drive-in coronavirus testing center in Tel Aviv, April 2 2020

A trial of an Israeli-developed HIV drug on coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in Congo, which began by chance, has achieved positive and promising results as a treatment for the virus.

The Gammora, a marketing-approved drug for HIV, was accidentally discovered as having a positive effect on COVID-19 patients.

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Dr. Sebastien Mafoundzi, from the Congo Cliniquie La Source hospital, noticed that all his HIV patients who had also been suffering from COVID-19 showed significant improvement after getting their treatment for HIV.

Mafoundzi, following his observations, and due to the difficult situation in Congo, approached the Israeli Zion Medical’s representative in Congo, Atipo Satnialas, to conduct a private compassionate trial on his patients with Gammora.

Zion Medical contacted the World Health Organization (WHO) representative Albert Kazadi to supervise the study. Zion Medical is an established scientific research company in the field of AIDS and cancer research.

Mafoundzi, together with Dr. Roger Alphonse Bouity, initiated in April a compassionate trial on COVID-19 patients. Compassionate use is a way to provide an investigational therapy to a patient who is not eligible to receive that therapy in a clinical trial, but who has a serious or life-threatening illness for which other treatments are not available.

Compassionate use allows patients to receive promising but not yet fully studied or approved therapies when no other treatment option exists.

The trial focused on two groups of 15 patients each. All 30 patients were in critical condition. The first group received the standard care for COVID-19 in Congo, including antibiotics and Atripla, an HIV medicine.

The second group received the same treatment as well as Gammora by injection for a period of nine days.

After only 48 hours, a considerable improvement was seen in all the 15 patients in the second group. By the end of nine days, four of the patients tested negative for COVID-19, showing they were completely cured.

The remaining 11 patients in the second group were discharged from the ICU to a standard internal department until full recovery.

However, 14 of the 15 members of the first group that did not receive the Gammora treatment died within this time period, and one remained in critical condition.

The trial proved statistically that the Gammora has improved the condition or entirely eliminated all signs of the virus in each patient who contracted COVID-19.

It is important to emphasize that Gammora is being tested as a treatment or cure and not a vaccination for preventing the virus.

Zion Medical reported that it has received more reports from all over the world that HIV patients suffering from the Coronavirus who are receiving Gammora have completely recovered from COVID-19.

The WHO has requested to receive all the reports and protocols of Gammora as soon as possible. Meanwhile, given the success of the experiment, more Corona patients are being treated with Gammora.

Mafoundzi and Alphonse Bouity are now considered local heroes in Congo.
Bouity, who contracted the virus himself and developed symptoms during the trial, did not treat himself with Gammora and died. It was his heroic act that saved his patients’ life instead of his own.

Gammora is based on technology developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by Prof. Abraham Loyter. Its success in treating HIV is debated.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.