SA making progress to start with Covid-19 clinical trial

A covid-19 blood sample in preparation for a clinical trial (PHOTO: Taechit Taechamanodom/Getty Images)
A covid-19 blood sample in preparation for a clinical trial (PHOTO: Taechit Taechamanodom/Getty Images)
Taechit Taechamanodom

South Africa has been ready to start with Covid-19 clinical trials for nearly two weeks now and Professor Helen Rees from WITS University, who is coordinating the international study trials in South Africa, says they are making good progress with getting the necessary approvals to get the project started.

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the international clinical trial named, Solidarity, to speed up the testing of different drugs to find evidence-based treatments for Covid-19. South Africa is part of nine other countries Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand that have confirmed to be part of this clinical trial with 5 counties having already started Professor Rees tells DRUM. Forty-five other countries are also contributing to the trial to generate evidence faster on drugs which do work.

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“Some European countries have already started enrolling participants into the trial, Brazil, Iran, Norway, France and Spain are already doing it” however South Africa has not yet started, she continues to say that they are still facing some red tape with regards to the necessary permits they need to carry out the project. Professor Rees is coordinating the clinical trial set roll out in 14 hospitals countrywide along with colleague Jeremy Nel.

“We are still in conversation with the minister of health, we still need permission from the ethics board and drug regulations along with some contractual things we still need to sort out with WHO” Rees says. Although the trials were set to start in mid-April she says the delay is merely minor and the project is moving along quite fast for a trial of its magnitude.

“Once we get started some sites will be easier to get to than others, but we will be able to have a longer conversation about which hospitals will take part once we get started.”

The Daily Maverick reported that the four drugs which will be used in the trial are namely Remdesivir which was tested in 2019 during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an HIV treatment drug called lopinavir/ritonavir and Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine used to treat malaria.