AbstractBackgroundEarly antiviral treatment is effective for COVID-19 but currently available agents are expensive. Favipiravir is routinely used in many countries, but efficacy is unproven. Antiviral combinations have not been systematically studied. We aimed to evaluate the effect of favipiravir, lopinavir-ritonavir or the combination of both agents on SARS-CoV-2 viral load trajectory when administered early.MethodsWe conducted a Phase 2, proof of principle, randomised, placebo-controlled, 2×2 factorial, double-blind trial of outpatients with early COVID-19 (within 7 days of symptom onset) at two sites in the United Kingdom. Participants were randomised using a centralised online process to receive: favipiravir (1800mg twice daily on Day 1 followed by 400mg four times daily on Days 2-7) plus lopinavir-ritonavir (400mg/100mg twice daily on Day 1, followed by 200mg/50mg four times daily on Days 2-7); favipiravir plus lopinavir-ritonavir placebo; lopinavir-ritonavir plus favipiravir placebo; or both placebos. The primary outcome was SARS-CoV-2 viral load at Day 5, accounting for baseline viral load. ClinicalTrials·gov: NCT04499677.FindingsBetween 6 October 2020 and 4 November 2021, we recruited 240 participants. For the favipiravir+lopinavir-ritonavir, favipiravir+placebo, lopinavir-ritonavir+placebo and placebo-only arms, we recruited 61, 59, 60 and 60 participants and analysed 55, 56, 55 and 58 participants respectively who provided viral load measures at Day 1 and Day 5. In the primary analysis, the mean viral load in the favipiravir+placebo arm had decreased by 0.57 log10 (95% CI -1.21 to 0.07, p=0.08) and in the lopinavir-ritonavir+placebo arm by 0.18 log10 (95% CI -0.82 to 0.46, p=0.58) more than in the placebo arm at Day 5. There was no significant interaction between favipiravir and lopinavir-ritonavir (interaction coefficient term: 0.59 log10, 95% CI -0.32 to 1.50, p=0.20). More participants had undetectable virus at Day 5 in the favipiravir+placebo arm compared to placebo only (46.3% vs 26.9%, odds ratio (OR): 2.47, 95% CI 1.08 to 5.65; p=0.03). Adverse events were observed more frequently with lopinavir-ritonavir, mainly gastrointestinal disturbance. Favipiravir drug levels were lower in the combination arm than the favipiravir monotherapy arm.InterpretationAt the current doses, no treatment significantly reduced viral load in the primary analysis. Favipiravir requires further evaluation with consideration of dose escalation. Lopinavir-ritonavir administration was associated with lower plasma favipiravir concentrations.FundingLifeArc, UK.