Argentine researchers are looking for volunteers among health professionals and individuals at high risk of contracting COVID-19, to be part of a promising clinical study called PREPARE-IT, which seeks to study in the country the effects of a component of Omega-3, fish oil enriched with a derivative of EPA (ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid), which could serve to reduce the risk of contracting the condition, due to its antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties.
As specified, health personnel is one of the subpopulations with the highest risk of infection from SARS-CoV-2. In most series, it represents a very high percentage of the infected population (between 20/25%). It is believed that approximately 1/6 to 1/5 of them may become infected in the course of the pandemic.
With the exception of population measures, such as sanitary isolation, social distancing and chinstrap, so far there are no preventive pharmacological measures that have been shown to reduce the infection rate against COVID-19.
Two teams of transdisciplinary scientists, one based in the city of Rosario and the other from Harvard University in the United States, are working against the clock to advance the research. For this clinical trial to move forward, it requires 1,500 healthy workers from the healthcare sectors, who will be divided into treatment and placebo groups over a period of eight weeks. The treatment group is administered a daily dose of 8 grams of the drug based on Eicosapentaenoic Acid (or EPA) during the first three days and 4 grams daily during days 4-60, or an identical scheme to the placebo group.
“We are looking for volunteer health workers to be able to formally test with scientific methodology if this alternative is effective in the context of this pandemic,” warned Rafael Díaz, a cardiologist who together with Andrés Orlandini lead the team of Argentine researchers belonging to ECLA (Clinical Studies Latin America ) and the Cardiovascular Institute of Rosario.
The team is completed from Harvard University and led by the doctor of medicine, Deepak L. Bhatt, who is also executive director of the Cardiovascular Interventions Program and a professor at Harvard University.
Deepak Bhatt is one of the most prominent academic personalities of recent years in the cardiovascular field. His major scientific production was focused on the area of thrombosis, platelet aggregation and cardiovascular prevention. One of the contributions with the greatest impact was to demonstrate a reduction in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality with an ethyl derivative of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (or EPA), present in Omega 3, in patients at high cardiovascular risk. She currently contributes her experience and knowledge in research of a high scientific level to mitigate the consequences of the current pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.
High-dose omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids possess properties that make them potentially beneficial in the context of a pandemic: they could reduce the rates of SARS-Cov-2 infection and modulate the inflammatory and repair process in COVID-19 patients .
Being a nutritional variant, it does not have patent protection and therefore its costs are affordable from a population perspective. This means that it is universally applicable. Its adverse effects are scarce, thus increasing its applicability and potential universality of use.
Scientists believe that on the basis that these compounds have anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic molecular mechanisms that have been demonstrated in basic experimentation at the cellular level: a new clinical study that was presented at the end of 2018, called REDUCE-IT, was planned with high doses of Omega 3, from an ethyl derivative of EPA, only EPA in a high dose, 4 grams.
Inclusion criteria include: being 18 years of age or older; doctors, nurses, auxiliary personnel, cleaning personnel who work in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) or Emergency Departments that treat patients with COVID-19; individuals who perform aerosol generation procedures on COVID-19 patients (i.e. anesthesiologists, nurses, dentists, physicians who perform transesophageal ultrasound, etc.); be a relative of an index case of COVID-19 with contact (according to the definition of the Ministry of Health of the Nation in force at the time of the evaluation) and / or laboratory personnel who are currently performing the COVID-19 test.