An oral tablet used to treat other illnesses could be the next tool in the battle to beat back COVID-19.
Researchers at the Montreal Heart Institute say colchicine is the first “effective oral drug to treat out-of-hospital patients.”
Over 4,100 patients took part in the study, one of the largest studies in the world researching ways to combat the virus.
An analysis found that colchicine resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in hospitalizations, the need for mechanical ventilation by 50 per cent, and deaths by 44 per cent.
The lead researcher, Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, is hopeful the discovery can reduce congestion at hospitals and reduce health-care costs in his home province of Quebec and elsewhere.
Tardif says colchicine is available at drugstores, and has been used to treat ailments such as gout for hundreds of years. The researchers say the drug could be used very quickly to treat people with COVID-19.
The study involved patients from Canada, South Africa, South America, the United States and Europe.