The World Health Organization (WHO) have launched SOLIDARITY, a giant multinational trial, testing the potential of drug for the coronavirus disease that is ravaging the world.
Despite the launch of the trial, world economies may remain on lockdown if the current trend of the disease’s spread is not reversed as the results of the trial will be released after 18 months from now.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General told a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday that the therapies that researchers have suggested may be effective against COVID-19.
“A vaccine is still at least 18 months away. In the meantime, we recognize that there is an urgent need for therapeutics to treat patients & save lives,” Ghebreyesus said.
Spain is among the first nations to have its sick nationals to be enrolled in the Solidarity trial which has been designed to compare the safety and effectiveness of four different drugs or drug combinations against COVID-19.
Ghebreyesus said that over 45 countries are contributing to the trial, and more have expressed interest to participate in the trial.
He defended the delay in confirming the drug stating that the history of medicine is strewn with examples of drugs that worked on paper, or in a test tube, but didn’t work in humans or were actually harmful.
He cited the most recent Ebola epidemic, where some medicines like remdesivir that were thought to be effective were found not to be as effective as other medicines when they were compared during a clinical trial.
“We must follow the evidence. There are no shortcuts,” Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO chief also revealed that its officials held a briefing with around 50 Ministers of Health from around the world at which China, Japan, South Korea shared their experiences and the lessons they have learned.
The ministers emphasized the need for early detection and isolation of confirmed cases, identification, follow-up and quarantine of contacts in addition to the need to communicate to build trust and engage communities in the fight.
In the same meeting, countries also expressed several common challenges including the chronic global shortage of personal protective equipment, a challenge WHO cited as one of the most urgent threats to its collective ability to save lives.
WHO also revealed that it had shipped almost two million individual items of protective gear to 74 countries that need it most and is preparing to send a similar amount to a further 60 countries, although the demand for these items is high and can only be solved with international cooperation and solidarity.
The world body called on all countries to conduct aggressive case-finding and testing, and that plans are underway to urgently to massively increase the production and capacity for testing around the world.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, WHO also reported that the COVID19 Solidarity Fund has now received donations of more than $108million from 203,000 individuals and organizations.