WHO Announces New International Trial To Search For COVID-19 Treatments
Electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that cause COVID-19

The World Health Organization announced on Wednesday a global “SOLIDARITY Trial” to generate a large, robust study comparing potential treatments for COVID-19. Currently there are 522 trials listed on WHO’s Clinical Trial registry under “COVID-19.”

Multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give us the clear, strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Wednesday.

“WHO and its partners are therefore organizing a study in many countries in which some of these untested treatments are compared with each other.”

So far, Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand have confirmed they will join the trial, and the Director-General expressed hope that others would soon join.

According to Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, medical officer in the Department of Immunization Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO, countries will be able to choose from 5 treatment arms:

  1. Standard of care available in the country, which will serve as a ‘control’ arm that the efficacy of other treatments will be compared with.
  2. Remdesivir, an antiviral drug with activity against Ebola, highlighted as one of the most promising potential treatments
  3. Lopinavir/ritonavir, a combination of two common HIV/AIDS antivirals
  4. Lopinavir/ritonavir and the anti-inflammatory drug interferon beta
  5. Chloroquine, an antimalarial drug, or its less toxic derivative, hydroxychloroquine

The large, international study will hopefully “generate the robust data we need to show which treatments are the most effective,” said Dr Tedros.

This story was updated 21 March 2020.

Image Credits: NIAID-RML.