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.
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.