Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can improve clinical symptoms, but it is not clear whether it can shorten viral shedding. This is an observational study including 97 patients with COVID-19 who were consecutively admitted to the Jiangxia Fangcang hospital in Wuhan (Hubei, China) from January 15, 2020, to March 10, 2020.
All patients were treated with TCM, and we assessed the patients daily and collected clinical information via a diary card. The primary endpoint was the time to achieve a negative result for severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RT-PCR. The final analysis included 92 patients. The median time to negative oropharyngeal swab for all the participants was 22 days (IQR 15-30).
The participants were divided into three groups according to time from symptom onset to start of TCM treatment: within 7 days group (early treatment group), 8-14 days group (middle treatment group), and over 14 days group (late treatment group). The median time to negative oropharyngeal swab for the early treatment group was 14 days (IQR 12-17) and for the middle and late treatment groups was statistically shorter than 20 days (IQR 18-22) and 30 days (IQR 25-34), respectively.
In univariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, the incidence of negative oropharyngeal swab for the early and middle treatment groups was 7.674 times and 3.609 times statistically higher than the late treatment group, respectively; whereas in multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, the incidence for the early and middle treatment groups was 18.093 times and 5.804 times statistically higher than the late treatment group, respectively.
In patients with moderate COVID-19, those who had no cough, no dyspnea, and those who received TCM treatment earlier could achieve nucleic acid negative sooner by shortening viral shedding.