Nairobi : Thirteen African countries announced a collaborative venture with international research networks to implement clinical trials aimed at enhancing treatment of mild COVID-19 cases. The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), an international drugs research entity, said in a statement released on Tuesday in Nairobi that the clinical trials will be conducted in 19 sites to help identify therapeutics that could prevent COVID-19 patients from reaching critical stages. “There is a need for large clinical trials in Africa for COVID-19 to answer research questions that are specific to an African context,” said John Nkengasong, director of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 20 global and African research organisations will be part of the ANTICOV consortium that will test the safety and efficacy of treatments in 2,000 to 3,000 mild to moderate COVID-19 patients in the 13 Sub-Saharan African countries. The clinical trials that will be coordinated by DNDi will help discover therapeutics that can help minimize severity of the disease and avert strain on public health facilities in the continent. “It is heartening to see so many African countries collaborate to get much-needed answers about our unique COVID-19 patient needs,” said Borna Nyaoke-Anoke, senior Clinical Project manager at DNDi.
“We need research here in Africa that will inform policies and test-and-treat strategies, so that as clinicians we can give the best options to people with COVID-19,” she added. Researchers affiliated to the ANTICOV consortium will identify the most promising treatment option for managing the mild COVID-19 cases in Africa with the overarching goal of averting a strain on public health facilities. Among the therapeutics being explored are the ones which are currently used to treat malaria, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis c, parasitic infections and some types of cancers.
“We support the ANTICOV trial because it will provide key data about early treatment for COVID-19, a knowledge gap that numerous scientists have called to fill in recent months,” said Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization. She hailed Africa-led research on novel drugs for treating mild COVID-19 cases, adding that it will inform enactment of innovative policies to combat the pandemic elsewhere.