The World Health Organisation is launching a multi-country 'solidarity trial' to fight the coronavirus, and the US and UK are not involved

ReutersTedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
  • During a media briefing Wednesday, WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, discussed a global “solidarity trial” intended to compare treatments for the novel coronavirus and identify the best.
  • Tedros announced the 10 countries involved, and the US and UK weren’t among them.
  • The five-arm “adaptive design” trial is designed to make it easier for overloaded hospitals to participate, and shouldn’t replace other ongoing research.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, discussed solidarity among countries during the novel coronavirus pandemic. He praised China for sharing the coronavirus’s genetic sequence, which swiftly led to the launch of the first vaccine trial, and South Korea for providing a model of how the virus’s spread can be effectively squelched.

Tedros also said that a new study, led by WHO and partners, called “the solidarity trial,” will compare treatments across the world in order to find what is most effective in fighting the coronavirus.

“We commend the researchers around the world who have come together to systematically evaluate experimental therapeutics. Multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give us the clear, strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives,” he said.

The solidarity trial could help meet that need by comparing untested treatments. “This large international study is designed to generate the robust data we need” to identify the most effective treatments, Tedros said.

Ten countries have already committed to the project, he said. “Those countries are Argentina, Behrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand, and I trust many more will join.”

The US and UK were not named.

“This virus is presenting us with an unprecedented threat, but it’s also an unprecedented opportunity to come together as one against an enemy, an enemy against humanity,” Tedros said.

Coronavirus lab testing GermanyAP Photo/Martin Meissner

The multi-arm trial is designed to make it easy for even overloaded hospitals to participate

WHO didn’t elaborate much on the trial, but said it will be an “adaptive design” comparing five treatments, and arms can be added or eliminated any time. The design is intended to make it easy for even overloaded to hospitals to participate.

Ana Maria Henao Restrepo, a medical officer in WHO’s Department of Immunization Vaccines and Biologicals, said it is a “very simple trial” and that other research needs to continue as well.

“This trial focuses on the key priority questions for public health,” including whether any of the drugs reduce mortality, the time a patient is in the hospital, or the type of care they need while they’re there.

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