Belgium begins clinical trial on coronavirus treatments

Belgium begins clinical trial on coronavirus treatments
Belgium is one of under a dozen European countries who will begin Covid-19 treatment trials on hospitalised patients. Credit: Governor Tom Wolf/Flickr (Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Clinical trials for experimental treatments against the new coronavirus (Covid-19) have begun in four European countries, including Belgium.

The trials will use four antiviral drugs on 3,200 hospitalised coronavirus patients in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France.

The goal of the study is to "evaluate the efficiency and the safety of four therapeutic and experimental strategies which could have an effect against Covid-19 based on current scientific literature," according to a press release on the study.

The clinical study will use antiviral drugs lopinavir and remdesivir, used to treat HIV/AIDS and Ebola, respectively, in combination with anti-malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine and ritonavir, also used against HIV/AIDS.

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The trials are based on research on SARS and MERS, two other types of coronavirus which also triggered major regional outbreaks, as well as on Covid-19 studies in China.

Coordinated by French health research centre INSERM, the clinical trials, named Discovery, already begun in France with at least 800 participants.

"The strength of this study is its adaptability, which means that we can quickly discard the treatments that are not efficient and replace them with other molecules recommended by emerging research," Florence Ader, an infectious diseases specialist leading the French trials.

"We will therefore be able to react in real time and in line with the newest scientific information, in order to quickly single out the best treatment for our sick," Ader added.

The four drugs included in the trail are among those listed as a priority for the development of Covid-19 treatments by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Friday, the WHO announced it would be launching Solidarity, a large-scale clinical trial against the pandemic, which Thailand was the latest country to join.

Over 380,000 people worldwide have been infected with the new coronavirus, from which 16,574 have died, a majority in Italy, whose death toll has already soared past China's, the virus' global epicentre.

According to the latest data by Johns Hopkins University, a total of 101,857 patients have recovered from the virus.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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