Covid-19: M'sia enrols first patient in WHO trial to find cure


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 22 Apr 2020

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has enrolled its first patient for the World Health Organisation (WHO)-led Solidarity Trial that will attempt to find the best drug to treat Covid-19 patients, says the ministry's Clinical Research Centre director Dr Goh Pik Pin.

Dr Goh, who is the coordinator for the trial in Malaysia, said that the patient was enrolled on Tuesday (April 21).

"With this, Malaysia will contribute to the evidence the world needs in identifying efficacious treatment regiment for Covid-19 patients," she said in a tweet on late Tuesday.

The Solidarity Trial, launched by WHO, is an international effort to test several drugs on Covid-19 patients.

On Sunday (April 19), Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that nine government hospitals would be participating in the Solidarity Trial using different combinations of remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir, interferon beta, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

The use of the drugs would be evaluated by regulatory bodies the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency and Medical Research and Ethics Committee.

In a press release on April 3, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) South-East Asia Regional Office said that a group of scientists, physicians, funders, and policymakers from over 70 institutions from over 30 countries have launched an international coalition to respond to Covid-19 in resource-poor settings.

The Covid-19 Clinical Research Coalition aims to accelerate desperately needed research in areas with already fragile health systems and, which could cause the greatest health impact on vulnerable populations.

In a comment published on April 3 in The Lancet, the members of the coalition argued that international research collaboration and coordination is needed urgently to support African, Latin American, Eastern European, and certain Asian countries to respond effectively to the worsening pandemic and speed up research adapted to resource-limited settings.

A WHO-led Solidarity Trial had been launched but the authors found that out of almost 600 Covid-19 clinical trials registered, very few trials were planned in resource-poor settings. The authors committed to sharing their technical expertise and clinical trial capability to accelerate the research in these settings.

Data from all regions can be collected in a similar fashion, pooled and shared in real-time with the hope of helping countries and WHO to make rapid evidence-based decisions on policies and practice.

Asked on the number of Covid-19 patients needed for the local trial, Dr Goh said that there was no limit, as long as they are adults, meet the requirements and that the hospitals could cope with the numbers.

According to the WHO joint press release on April 6, the nine hospitals involved were Hospital Tuanku Fauziah, Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah, Hospital Pulau Pinang, Hospital Sungai Buloh, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Melaka, Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan, Sarawak General Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The research is headed by Hospital Pulau Pinang infectious disease consultant Dr Chow Ting Soo with a team comprising 16 infectious disease physicians and pharmacists as co-investigators at the respective Health Ministry's hospitals.

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