Israeli drug cuts COVID deaths by 70% in small study, company says

An Israeli drugmaker says a therapy it is developing reduced deaths among patients battling serious bouts of COVID-19 by 70 percent, and nearly halved hospitalization length in a small trial.

A clinical study for MesenCure, conducted in Israel, involved 50 patients hospitalized in serious condition, and a similar size control group that received the best standard of care without the drug.

Haifa-based Bonus BioGroup, which developed the drug, reported that out of the first 30 patients who received the therapy, two died, representing 6.7% of the group, and the average hospitalization of those treated was 9.4 days. A third of the patients who received the drug were discharged from the hospital as the five-day course of treatment ended.

Among the control group, 23.3% of the patients died of COVID-19 or its complications, and average hospitalization was 17.2 days. The control group was selected algorithmically out of a pool of hundreds of patients, who were matched to test group subjects by gender, age and pre-existing conditions.

Data on the final 20 patients is still being analyzed, the company said.

“This is going to be a solution for severe COVID-19 patients because it tackles inflammation, tackles pneumonia and ameliorates the cytokine storm, the excessive immune response initiated by the coronavirus,” Dr. Tomer Bronshtein, head of research at Bonus BioGroup, told The Times of Israel.

“This drug can help hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide who despite vaccines may well suffer.”