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COVID-19: Norwegian patients are part of a historic clinical study

Bent Hoie Foot Borges Foto AS

Norwegian hospitals are part of an international study with the purpose of determining which existing medicines are most effective against Covid-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a multiarm, multicountry clinical trial for potential coronavirus therapies, part of an effort to jumpstart the global search for drugs to treat Covid-19.

The SOLIDARITY trial

The study, which WHO hopes other countries will join, has been named the SOLIDARITY trial. So far 45 countries are included in the study and the first two countries to start testing the treatments are Norway and Spain.

“Multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give us the clear strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva. He also said that this is a historic study.

Four drugs or drug combinations already licensed and used for other illnesses will be tested. They will be compared to what is called standard of care — the regular support hospitals treating these patients use now, such as supplementary oxygen when needed.

The drugs to be tested are the antiviral drug remdesivir; a combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir; lopinavir and ritonavir plus interferon beta; and the antimalarial drug chloroquine. All show some evidence of effectiveness against the SARS-CoV 2 virus, which causes Covid-19, either in vitro and/or animal studies.

Remdesivir is made by Gilead. Lopinavir and ritonavir are combined and sold as Kaletra or Aluvia by AbbVie.

The first patient has received its treatment in the study

At least 22 Norwegian hospitals will be included in the international study and around 1 000 Norwegian patients could be included in the trial, reports Verdens Gang.

The first patient in Norway received its first treatment this weekend. The Norwegian study is lead by Professor Pål Aukrust at Oslo University Hospital and John-Arne Røttingen, Director of the Research Council of Norway, will coordinate the WHO-study.

All patients included in the study will receive traditional treatment as well.

“The goal is to decrease the spread of the virus and limit the number of infected people, reduce the pressure on healthcare, the number of seriously ill patients and the number of deaths. Our goal is also to win time in the race towards a vaccine and towards improved treatments,” said Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services in Norway to NRK.

Photo of Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services in Norway: Borgos Foto AS