Hong Kong hospitals will use the HIV protease inhibitor Kaletra together with ribavirin to treat SARS patients if the territory is hit by a second wave of the deadly respiratory disease, its hospital chief said on Thursday. Experts have warned that the disease could return during the winter months, and countries in the region are arming themselves with drugs and elaborate contingency plans for what may be another onslaught of the disease.
Hospital Authority chief William Ho said an analysis of the treatments given to all SARS patients in Hong Kong showed that a small group given both Kaletra and ribavirin had a significantly lower death rate than those given only ribavirin. "If SARS comes, all hospitals will cooperate and use what's believed to be the best treatment protocol," he said. Nearly 300 SARS patients in Hong Kong died of SARS earlier this year; more than 800 died worldwide.