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Tags Current Affairs

WHO Solidarity trial

Date: 28 May 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced it would no longer assign patients to the hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) arm of the multi-country Solidarity Trial on possible treatments for Covid-19.

 

Background

The announcement raises several questions, particularly in India which is a major manufacturer/exporter of the drug and has also reposed implicit faith in its therapeutic and prophylactic role for health workers exposed to Covid-19 cases.

 

Details

  • “Solidarity” is an international initiative for clinical trials launched by the WHO, along with partners, to help find an effective treatment for Covid-19.

  • It was originally supposed to look at four drugs or drug combinations: remdesivir, HCQ, ritonavir/lopinavir and lopinavir/ritonavir/interferon beta 1a.

  • Now with HCQ trial enrolment stalled for at least the next few weeks, the Solidarity trial will proceed with the other three arms.

  • By enrolling patients in multiple countries, the Solidarity Trial aims to rapidly discover whether any of the drugs slow disease progression or improve survival.

  • Overall, over 100 countries have joined or expressed an interest in joining the trial, and WHO is actively supporting 60 of them.

  • So far, remdesivir is widely being described as the most promising, although results of various trials have sometimes being conflicting.

  • Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral which was previously tested in humans with Ebola virus disease, and which has also shown promise as a drug against MERS and SARS, both of which are caused by coronaviruses.

  • The drug was found to speed up recovery during a trial and the results were encouraging enough to warrant publication of the results even while the trial was still on.

  • Ritonavir and liponavir are second-line HIV drugs, known as HIV protease inhibitors, that have been in use for some time. They bolster the immune system, which reduces the chances of a HIV-positive person developing complications such as tuberculosis.

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