Greg Jefferys Hepatitis C blog deals with all the issues associated with hepatitis C
Not much has been published on how the COVID 19 Corona Virus affects people with Hepatitis C.
The main reason for this is that COVID 19 hit the world so fast that all the focus has been on trying to control to contain it.
In this article, I will attempt to explain, in simple terms, what the COVID 19 virus means for people with Hepatitis C and those who have recovered from Hepatitis C, after treatment.
I will also give the latest information about COVID 19 treatment options at the end of the post.
COVID 19 is a virus, as is Hepatitis C.
Most people who become infected by COVID 19 will only suffer minor illness as a result of the infection because their body’s own immune system is able to control and defeat the virus.
About 15% of people who are infected by COVID 19 will be come very sick and about one third of those will become critically ill and at least half of those will die under current treatment conditions.
So, what does this mean for people who are currently infected with Hepatitis C?
It would appear that the main factor that determines who gets minor symptoms of COVID 19 and who gets very sick is quite simple.
Their existing state of health.
Put simply, young healthy people are the least likely to become seriously ill and old sickly people are the most likely to become seriously ill and die.
People with pre-existing health conditions are more likely to suffer serious illness from COVID 19 than people who do not have existing health problems.
Do you see where this is leading for people with Hepatitis C?
Yes, Hepatitis C is a serious, pre-existing health condition. Therefore, a person who is infected with Hepatitis C is more likely to suffer serious illness from a COVID 19 infection than a person who does not have Hepatitis C.
It really is that simple, if you have a Hepatitis C infection and you pick up COVID 19 on top of that it is very likely that the COVID 19 infection is going to be a difficult experience, if not a fatal experience.
Because you will have two different viral infections operating in your body at the same time.
HCV will be attacking your liver while COVID 19 is attacking your lungs.
This is a very undesirable thing.
What Are the Options
If you have Hepatitis C and live in a country where HCV treatment is available for free, or is subsidised, from a national health service you should move quickly to get treatment.
I know that in many countries, like Australia, there are many people with HCV who have not taken advantage of the free treatment because they have no obvious symptoms.
This is a BIG mistake.
If you have Hepatitis C and pick up the COVID 19 infection you are immediately in a high-risk category
If you live in a country where HCV treatment is not available through national health service you should bite the bullet now and buy a generic Hepatitis C treatment.
Licensed generic Sovaldi + Daklinza (Sofosbuvir + Daclatasvir) is the most effective pan-genotype Hep C treatment and in most cases treating HCV with licensed generic DAAs like Sofosbuvir + Daclatasvir will not cost more than US0.
If you want to treat with unlicensed DAAs these can be purchased cheaper, for less than $500 from countries like Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan, but there is no the guarantee of quality that licensed generic DAAs have.
If you have Hepatitis C and can not access Hepatitis C treatment and you are in a location where COVID 19 is an existing threat you must consider yourself a member of a high-risk population and take all measures possible to avoid COVID 19 infection until the risk has passed.
There have been several studies that suggest that Sofosbuvir and other DAAs may inhibit COVID 19 replication.
I have a quote from one of them below with a link to the actual study.
The implication of this is that a Sofosbuvir based a drug combination may give some preventative qualities for a person who is doing Hepatitis C treatment.
That is to say that the risk of a COVID 19 infection may be reduced for a person who is doing Hepatitis C treatment with DAAs including Sofosbuvir, Ribavirin or the like.
Of course, this is currently just speculation as no actually trials have been done, or a likely to be done.
However, if Sofosbuvir actually does inhibit COVID 19 replication then there may be some advantage for a person who is carrying an amount of Sofosbuvir in their blood for 12 weeks.
“ …The present study aimed to test and suggest possible inhibitors, DAA drugs, currently in the market stop the infection immediately. Sofosbuvir, Ribavirin, and Remdisivir can be used against the new strain of coronavirus that emerged with promising results. GTP derivatives may be used as specific inhibitors against COVID-19.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320520302253
If a person has had Hepatitis C and cured it and has then returned to 100% good health, then they are in the same position as anyone else in the community in their age bracket and health status.
However, if a person has had Hepatitis C and has not regained 100% good health then they fit into the higher risk category for COVID 19 infections.
In this case, it is wise to have a plan in place for fighting the COVID 19 infection if an infection does occur.
This means having a plan to gain fast access to drugs that may defeat the COVID 19 virus.
As with any health issue, the sooner treatment begins the better the outcomes.
This is true with COVID 19. It is better to treat it before the infection takes hold and the patient’s health is severely compromised.
Until quite recently the only way to fight a virus was via the body’s own immune system.
The advent of Direct Acting Antivirals to cure Hepatitis C was the first time humans have been able to attack a virus directly with pharmaceutical products.
This created a whole new understanding of how virus operates and how they can be defeated.
This new understanding is being used in the fight against COVID 19 and, because of the urgency of the situation, the frontline work is focused on trying to find an existing antiviral drug that will defeat COVID 19.
The reason for this is that developing news drugs takes years whereas using and existing drug means that we already know what side effects there will be for humans… most of the testing on humans can be bypassed with the focus being on how the drug effects the COVID 19.
Whilst doing my research on possible treatment options for COVID 19 I was fortunate enough to receive an email from Dr Andrew Hill, an internationally respected expert on antiretroviral treatment.
Dr Hill gave me a list of the most promising treatment options using existing antiviral drugs that were currently being researched.
Amongst the drugs on the list I received was a standout “promising treatment” the drug, hydroxychloroquine, sold under the brand name Plaquenil.
Israel has combined hydroxychloroquine with Kaletra (200mg of Lopinivar and 50mg of Ritonavir) and is using this to treat its COVID 19 patients.
Both these drugs are relatively cheap and readily available with 2-week treatment costing less than US$100.
I am presently trying to secure reliable suppliers of Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) and Kaletra (200mg of Lopinivar and 50mg of Ritonavir) and hope to be able to ship these important COVID 19 medicines to people who need them before the end of March.
On the latest advice the most promising drugs for the treatment of COVID 19 could be:
Faviparivir (made by two Chinese companies plus Fujifilm Holdings in Japan)
Remdisivir (Gilead – but it’s an IV infusion, so not very practical)
Hydroxychloroquine – super cheap generic, decades old
Treatments to lessen the severity of disease:
Corticosteroids – very cheap/
Pirfenidone – very cheap to make
There will be other candidates as well. Over 240 trials are in progress.
At the moment, the evidence is very sketchy, based on pilot studies, case reports.