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WHO’s Solidarity Clinical Trial Enters a New Phase with New Candidate Drugs

Solidarity PLUS trial will roll out in 52 countries, an unprecedented global collaboration for COVID-19 R&D

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced the next phase in its Solidarity trial: Solidarity PLUS will enroll hospitalized patients to test three new drugs in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

These therapies—artesunate, imatinib, and infliximab—were selected by an independent expert panel for their potential in reducing the risk of death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. They are already used for other indications: artesunate is used for severe malaria, imatinib for certain cancers, and infliximab for diseases of the immune system such as Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

These drugs were donated for the trial by their manufacturers.

“Finding more effective and accessible therapeutics for COVID-19 patients remains a critical need, and WHO is proud to lead this global effort,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. “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.”

The Solidarity PLUS trial is a platform trial that represents the largest global collaboration among WHO Member States. It involves thousands of researchers in over 600 hospitals in 52 countries, 16 more countries than the first phase of trials. This allows the trial to assess multiple treatments at the same time using a single protocol, recruiting thousands of patients to generate robust estimates on the effect a drug may have on mortality—even moderate effects.

It also allows new treatments to be added and ineffective treatments to be dropped throughout the course of the trial.

Previously, four drugs were evaluated by the trial. The results showed that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and interferon had little or no effect on hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Through the Solidarity PLUS trial, researchers across the world have an opportunity to use their expertise and resources to contribute to global COVID-19 research.

- This press release was originally published on the World Health Organization website