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Africa launches huge Covid-19 treatment trial


Study will evaluate treatments to stop mild disease turning into severe illness

Thirteen African countries will take part in a study to evaluate possible treatments for mild or moderate Covid-19.

The clinical trial coordinated by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative will test the safety and effectiveness of treatments in 2,000 to 3,000 mild-to-moderate Covid-19 cases. It aims to evaluate whether any such treatments can prevent progression to severe disease and stop health systems from being overwhelmed. 

Nineteen sites will take part in the trial in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan, and Uganda. 

“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.” 

The so-called ANTICOV trial will evaluate treatments, including some currently used to treat malaria, HIV, hepatitis C, parasitic infections, and cancer. It will test, among other drugs, the antiretroviral combination lopinavir/ritonavir and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. 

Funding for the trial comes from the European Union, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, among others. 

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said ANTICOV would help answer one of Africa’s most pressing questions: “With limited intensive care facilities in Africa, can we treat people for Covid-19 earlier and stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed?”