The World Health Organization and partners are launching a large international clinical study to find out whether any of four COVID-19 treatments are effective. This is known as the SOLIDARITY study
Prof. Rees and infectious diseases Dr Jeremy Nel are leading the SA division of the Solidarity study of four possible treatments for COVID-19. This independent group identified the following treatment options as being justified for inclusion in the SOLIDARITY study: Remdesivir; lopinavir/ritonavir; lopinavir/ritonavir with interferon beta-1a; chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine.
In future, other treatments could be added depending on emerging evidence. The great number of international sites is designed to speed up results. Over 80 countries have indicated interest in participating in the study. Countries that have already confirmed they will join the study include South Africa, Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand.
By helping many countries adhere to the same methodology, the study will help facilitate the worldwide comparison of unproven treatments. This will overcome the risk of multiple small trials not generating the strong evidence needed to determine the relative effectiveness of potential treatments.
The South African Solidarity research team is led by senior academics and clinicians from eight medical schools (WITS, SMU, UP, UCT, Stellenbosch, NMU, UKZN, UFS, and the SA Military Health Service) who will be undertaking the study in fourteen leading hospitals across the country.
Private hospitals have also indicated interest in participating, and this is under consideration. The SOLIDARITY study provides simplified procedures to enable hospitals working at full capacity to participate. Data from the study is monitored in real time, which means medicines that are persistently failing can be removed. The protocol is being reviewed by SAHPRA and local ethics committees.
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