Rutgers is looking for people who've been newly diagnosed with COVID-19 and aren't yet experiencing severe symptoms so that researchers can investigate whether a specific combination of medications may increase their chances of a simple recovery.

Ideally, the combination of antiviral medications would also reduce one's chances of passing the virus on to someone else.

"This three-drug combination has been shown to work in experimental studies, this has not been shown to work in people," said Dr. Jeffrey Carson, lead investigator on the trial and distinguished professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Trial participants will receive a placebo or a combination of nitazoxanide, ribavirin and hydroxychloroquine. As work continues to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to the public, there also are no proven treatments for the contagious respiratory illness. But researchers believe that medications used to treat other infections might also fight COVID-19, especially if they're used together.

"This is a largely unmet need, where we treat patients who have COVID, who are not that sick, with the idea that you prevent them from getting sicker," Carson said.

The trial, a collaboration between Rutgers and Synavir Corporation, is seeking 70 participants, aged 21 or older. To be eligible, patients must have been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 within the previous six days, preferably within the last two days. Compensation for your time may be offered, according to the trial's website.

Participation would last about a month. Three visits to the medical school would be necessary, but most participation happens at home. Three nasal swabs occur in the first 10 days, and status checks on patients occur at days 14 and 28.

"The trial is designed to look at people who are home, who are not in the hospital and not severely ill," Carson said. "If it turns out to be effective in this group of people, then yes, it could be tested in people in the hospital."

Carson said the trial's first patient is scheduled to be seen on Wednesday.

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