Aspirin will be probed in UK trials as a possible treatment for the coronavirus, the University of Oxford’s RECOVERY trial announced Friday.

“From today, aspirin will be investigated in the world’s largest clinical trial of treatments for patients hospitalised with COVID-19. The Randomised Evaluation of COViD-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial is taking place in 176 hospital sites across the UK, and has so far recruited over 16,000 patients,” read a statement from RECOVERY.

The common anti-inflammatory drug will be tested for use in patients for blood clotting complications.

“Patients with COVID-19 are at higher risk of blood clots forming in their blood vessels. Platelets, small cell fragments in the blood that stop bleeding, seem to be hyperreactive in COVID-19 and may be involved in the clotting complications,” said the statement. “Since aspirin is an antiplatelet agent, it may reduce the risk of blood clots in patients with COVID-19.”

Peter Horby, co-Chief Investigator of the trial, said the drug may be beneficial because it is safe, accessible and inexpensive.

“We are looking for medicines for COVID-19 that can be used immediately by anyone, anywhere in the world. We do not know if aspirin is such a medicine but we will find out,” he said.  

Aspirin is widely used as a blood thinner for conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, said Martin Landray, who co-leads the trial.

“Enrolling patients in a randomised trial such as RECOVERY is the only way to assess whether there are clear benefits for patients with COVID-19 and whether those benefits outweigh any potential side effects such as the risk of bleeding,” he said.

Other investigations are continuing in the RECOVERY trial including “Azithromycin (a commonly used antibiotic), Tocilizumab (an anti-inflammatory treatment given by injection), Convalescent plasma (collected from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 and contains antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus), REGN-COV2: An investigational anti-viral antibody cocktail produced by Regeneron.”

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