Geneva, Feb 21 (IANS) The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that preliminary results from clinical trials of therapeutics against COVID-19 were expected in three weeks.
“We’re also looking forward to results from two clinical trials of therapeutics prioritized by the WHO R&D Blueprint,” Xinhua news agency quoted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying in a briefing on Thursday.
One of the trials he referred to was the combination of two drugs for HIV, lopinavir and ritonavir, while the other is testing an antiviral called remdesivir.
“We expect preliminary results in three weeks,” he added.
Remdesivir is a drug developed by US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. It has shown good antiviral activity against SARS and MERS in previous cell and animal experiments.
It has also shown fairly good antiviral activity against the COVID-19 at the cellular level.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of remdesivir started on February 6 in several hospitals in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and the trial will last until the end of April.
A study published in 2004 showed the anti-HIV drug combination of lopinavir and ritonavir has “substantial clinical benefit” when given to patients who had SARS.
The Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, where the first 41 known patients were treated, has already launched a randomized, controlled trial of the anti-HIV drug combination.
The third version of COVID-19 treatment guidelines published by China’s National Health Commission suggested that taking two lopinavir/ritonavir pills and inhaling a dose of nebulized alpha-interferon twice a day could benefit patients.