AbstractThe antiparasitic drug nitazoxanide is widely available and exerts broad-spectrum antiviral activity in vitro. However, there is no evidence of its impact on SARS-CoV-2 infection.In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, adult patients who presented up to 3 days after onset of Covid-19 symptoms (dry cough, fever, and/or fatigue) were enrolled. After confirmation of SARS-CoV2 infection by RT-PCR on nasopharyngeal swab, patients were randomized 1:1 to receive either nitazoxanide (500 mg) or placebo, TID, for 5 days. The primary outcome was complete resolution of symptoms. Secondary outcomes were viral load, general laboratory tests, serum biomarkers of inflammation, and hospitalization rate. Adverse events were also assessed.From June 8 to August 20, 2020, 1,575 patients were screened. Of these, 392 (198 placebo, 194 nitazoxanide) were analyzed. Median time from symptom onset to first dose of study drug was 5 (4-5) days. At the 5-day study visit, symptom resolution did not differ between the nitazoxanide and placebo arms. However, at the 1-week follow-up, 78% in the nitazoxanide arm and 57% in the placebo arm reported complete resolution of symptoms (p=0.048). Swabs collected were negative for SARS-CoV-2 in 29.9% of patients in the nitazoxanide arm versus 18.2% in the placebo arm (p=0.009). Viral load was also reduced after nitazoxanide compared to placebo (p=0.006). No serious adverse events were observed.In patients with mild Covid-19, symptom resolution did not differ between the nitazoxanide and placebo groups after 5 days of therapy. However, early nitazoxanide therapy was safe and reduced viral load significantly.Take home messageThis was the first study to evaluate the effect of early nitazoxanide therapy in mild Covid-19. Nitazoxanide did not accelerate symptom resolution after 5 days of therapy; however, reduced viral load significantly with no serious adverse events.