WHO kicks off COVID-19 treatment trial with three candidate drugs

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the latest evolution in its Solidarity trial: Solidarity PLUS. The new phase will test three drugs that have shown potential for treating COVID-19, potentially uncovering an effective way to reduce the risk of death in hospitalized individuals. Solidarity PLUS follows a previous trial involving four drugs that weren't found to be effective in treating COVID-19.

According to WHO, the Solidarity PLUS trial is the single largest collaboration involving its member states, covering 52 countries and more than 600 hospitals. During this latest phase of the trial, experts will test three candidate drugs with hospitalized COVID-19 patients: imatinib, artesunate, and infliximab.

These three potential COVID-19 treatments were chosen by an independent panel of experts due to their potential ability to reduce the risk of dying from COVID-19. The drugs target cancer, severe malaria, and autoimmune diseases, respectively. The manufacturers behind these drugs donated the medication for the trial.

Because of the huge number of hospitals involved in the trial, WHO explains that experts will be able to assess these potential treatments on thousands of patients while operating under the same protocol. Similar past trials found that four drugs weren't effective against COVID-19: lopinavir, remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, and interferon.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said in a statement:

Finding more effective and accessible therapeutics for COVID-19 patients remains a critical need, and WHO is proud to lead this global effort. I would like to thank the participating governments, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, clinicians and patients, who have come together to do this in true global solidarity.