Malaysia to begin Covid-19 drug clinical trials in WHO programme soon, says Health DG

PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): Malaysia’s involvement in the “Solidarity” trial, an international effort to test several drugs in treating Covid-19, will begin with clinical trials on local patients very soon, says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic).

He said nine government hospitals would be participating in the clinical trials to use different combinations of remdesivir, lopinavir/ ritonavir, interferon beta, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

Dr Noor Hisham said the nine hospitals are also prepared to accept patients who meet the criteria required for the trials.

He said the use of the drugs would be evaluated by regulatory bodies the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency and Medical Research and Ethics Committee (MREC).

“Evaluation of the drugs would be done based on three main aspects, which are safety, quality and preliminary effectiveness according to data provided,” he said at his daily Covid-19 briefing here Sunday (April 19).

Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia’s participation in the global research effort launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is expected to help produce a safe and effective drug for the deadly disease.

He said there were five groups of patients who will be considered for trials.

“However, we may not include patients who test positive but do not have symptoms (first group), only those with symptoms (second group).

“The third group could involve those with inflammation but do not need oxygen aid. The fourth are those with inflammation and need oxygen and lastly, those who come in late for treatment and require breathing aid,” he explained.

Asked if Malaysia would emulate the United States’ move to distribute home test kits to detect the virus, Dr Noor Hisham said it would depend on the kit itself.

“If it’s a test kit, we would use the antigen technique which would require swabs,” he said, but added that it may be difficult for the people to take their own swabs because they are not trained for it.

He said if they do not get the swab properly, the test might erroneously show a negative result.

“It is possible to use antibody test kits as it is blood-based, but this method is not to detect the virus, but to let us know if we have the antibodies produced by the body to fight off the virus,” he said. – Bernama
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