The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced its “Solidarity” international clinical trials to find an effective treatment for COVID-19. Malaysia will be part of this international research effort, involving nine major hospitals around the country.
Locally, the research will be headed by Dr Chow Ting Soo, Infectious Disease Consultant at the Pulau Pinang Hospital. The team is comprised of 15 other Infectious Disease physicians and pharmacists of the other hospitals. The Malaysian Director General of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Ministry of Health has fast-tracked the process to implement the drug trials, which will begin soon.
This research involves collecting data on the effectiveness of four treatment protocols in fighting COVID-19. These are Rtemdesivir, Lopinavir / Ritonavir, Interferon beta-1a and Chloroquine / Hydroxychloroquine.
The first of these was previously shown to be effective when used against MERS and SARS, both also caused by coronaviruses. The second is a licensed treatment for HIV, but has yet to show effective outcomes for coronaviruses. The remaining two are used to treatmultiple sclerosis and malaria, respectively.
WHO claims that randomised clinical trials normally take years to design and conduct. But with the Solidarity international research effort, this time can be cut down by 80%.