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WHO will see first results from Covid drug trials within two weeks

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The World Health Organization should soon get results from clinical trials it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating Covid-19 patients.

FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug "remdesivir. Picture: Reuters

GENEVA/LONDON – The World Health
Organization should soon get results from clinical trials
it is conducting of drugs that might be effective in treating
Covid-19 patients, its Director General Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus said on Friday.

“Nearly 5,500 patients in 39 countries have so far been
recruited into the Solidarity trial,” he told a news briefing,
referring to clinical studies the UN agency is conducting.

“We expect interim results within the next two weeks.”

The Solidarity Trial started out in five parts looking at
possible treatment approaches to Covid-19: standard care;
remdesivir; the anti-malaria drug touted by US President
Donald Trump, hydroxychloroquine; the HIV drugs
lopinavir/ritonavir; and lopanivir/ritonavir combined with
interferon.

Earlier this month, it stopped the arm testing
hydroxychloroquine, after studies indicated it showed no benefit
in those who have the disease, but more work is still needed to
see whether it may be effective as a preventative medicine.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, said it
would be unwise to predict when a vaccine could be ready against
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel
coronavirus that has killed more than half a million people.

While a vaccine candidate might show its effectiveness by
year’s end, the question was how soon it could be mass produced,
he told the U.N. journalists’ association ACANU in Geneva.

There is no proven vaccine against the disease now, while
18 potential candidates are being tested on humans.

WHO officials defended their response to the virus that
emerged in China last year, saying they had been driven by the
science as it developed. Ryan said what he regretted was that
global supply chains had broken, depriving medical staff of
protective equipment.

“I regret that there wasn’t fair, accessible access to Covid tools. I regret that some countries had more than others, and I
regret that front-line workers died because of (that),” he said.

He urged countries to get on with identifying new clusters
of cases, tracking down infected people and isolating them to
help break the transmission chain.

“People who sit around coffee tables and speculate and talk
(about transmission) don’t achieve anything. People who go after
the virus achieve things,” he said. 

Reuters