The World Health Organisation is beginning trials throughout the world on three new drugs that may reduce the risk of death in hospitalised Covid patients.
Its Solidarity PLUS trial is looking for participants in Portugal.
The news comes as in UK scientists have warned that the concept of herd immunity thanks to vaccines is “unachievable” because quite apart from infection spreading in unvaccinated populations, latest data “suggests two doses (of vaccine) is probably only 50% protective against the Delta variant”, which is sweeping the world and responsible in Portugal for over 98.9% of all cases.
By coincidence, scientists in Portugal have also found a way of ‘repurposing’ existing drugs (click here), but they have not yet reached the trials stage.
The WHO’s selection are ‘artesunate’ – a drug used for severe malaria; ‘imatinib’ for certain cancers and ‘infliximab’ for diseases of the immune system such as Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
The drugs have been donated for the trial by their manufacturers.
Says WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom: “Finding more effective and accessible therapeutics for Covid-19 patients remains a critical need. 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.”
Solidarity PLUS has already trialled four drugs: remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and interferon, but these were found to have little or no effect on hospitalised patients.
Explain reports today, the new clinical trials will recruit only adult patients who are in hospital up till May 2022.