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Diverse Covid-19 treatments need funding and testing, EU told

Experts seek more coordinated clinical trials and funding of treatments beyond vaccines

Health experts are calling on the EU to fund the development of a range of treatments for Covid-19, rather than focussing excessively on the development of relatively well-funded vaccines.

While EU support for Covid-19 vaccines has been positive, the bloc could do more to develop other treatments for the disease, according to Michel Kazatchkine, senior fellow at the Global Health Centre of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and Michel Goldman, co-director of the I3Health Institute at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

“Prioritising access to vaccines is an obvious thing to do. It is however unfortunate the [European] Commission is not taking a similar approach to supporting late-phase development of anti-viral antibodies, which are increasingly recognised as an important addition to vaccines in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic,” Kazatchkine and Goldman wrote in a 27 article on the news website Science Business.

Similarly, in a 24 August opinion piece for the BMJ medical journal, six senior medical researchers from three EU countries praised EU leaders in raising finances for research into the disease but urged greater coordination, warning of potential “missed opportunities for better treatments” if parallel clinical trials develop independently.

“The danger is that the scientific research landscape will become saturated with many duplicative trials that may bring little innovation and limited certainty and expose patients to needless risks,” wrote the researchers. They also stressed the “imperative need for rigorous trial methodology and implementation”, and said an increase in funding for Covid-19 R&D must not come at the cost of treating other diseases.