COVID-19: WHO Begins Solidarity PLUS Trial

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a press conference on the situation regarding the COVID-19 at Geneva's WHO headquarters on February 24, 2020. - Fears of a global coronavirus pandemic deepened on February 24 as new deaths and infections in Europe, the Middle East and Asia triggered more drastic efforts to stop people travelling. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
The director-general, World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus. (Photo by Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the commencement of Solidarity trial, called Solidarity PLUS for the treatment of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Speaking during a virtual press conference yesterday (August 11), the WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the trial involved thousands of researchers at more than 600 hospitals in 52 countries and would test three drugs for the possible treatment of the disease.

“Solidarity PLUS will test three drugs: artesunate, a treatment for severe malaria; imatinib, a drug for certain cancers; and infliximab, a treatment for immune system disorders such as Crohn’s disease. These drugs were chosen by an independent panel of experts that evaluates all the available evidence on all potential therapeutics,” he added.

Recall that in October, WHO reported results of the Solidarity trial, which tested four treatments for COVID-19, involving almost 13,000 patients in 500 hospitals, in 30 countries.

The trial showed that the four drugs had little or no effect on hospitalized patients with COVID-19, with the final results from trial next month next week, hence the move unto the next phase called the Solidarity PLUS.

Ghebreyesus urged the world to unite to stop the current trajectory of the spread of COVID-19, lamenting though there are several effective vaccines for COVID-19, and yet cases and deaths continue to rise.

“Last week, the 200 millionth case of COVID-19 was reported to WHO, just six months after the world passed 100 million reported cases. And we know that the real number of cases is much higher.

“As I said recently, whether we reach 300 million, and how fast we get there, depends on all of us. At the current trajectory, we could pass 300 million reported cases early next year. But we can change that. We’re all in this together, but the world is not acting like it.

“We already have many tools to prevent, test for and treat COVID-19, including oxygen, dexamethasone and IL-6 blockers. But we need more, for patients at all ends of the clinical spectrum, from mild to severe disease. And we need health workers that are trained to use them in a safe environment,” he added.

He further thanked the governments, hospitals, researchers and patients who are participating in the trial, as well as the three manufacturers who have donated the drugs for the trial: Ipca, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson, adding the Finland was one of the first countries to enrol patients in the Solidarity PLUS trial.

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