Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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ARGENTINA | 28-03-2020 08:24

Argentina to participate in global study to determine possible virus treatments

Scheme is called Solidarity and it will have two stages. Health Ministry is evaluating what methodology will be and who will participate. Conclusions will be compared with various countries.

Argentina will participate in a two-stage global study named Solidarit y, which will help determine possible treatment options for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The Health Ministry is evaluating its methodology and which Argentine doctors and scientists will participate in the global programme, which also counts on the participation of nine other countries, comparing conclusions with various nations.

The initiative was announced at a press conference last weekend by World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He described it as “a major international study conceived to generate solid data which we need to ascertain the most effective treatment.”

The nine other countries are Bahrein, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand.

FINE-TUNED

The details are still being fine-tuned before launching research into how to halt a virus which had already infected over 300,000 people worldwide with a death toll into five digits at the time of announcement.

Solidarity has two stages. The first will compare different schemes of treatment, while the second will seek to determine the scope of the infection via surveys of seroprevalence, in order to determine the incidence of infection in the general population and also by age-group so that, for example, appropriate vaccination policies can be adopted.

As for Argentina’s participation, the Health Ministry is deciding who will co-ordinate the first stage, which centres will participate and how.

The public-sector contribution to Solidarity 2 is still not clear but Fernando Polack, the scientific director of Fundación Infant, confirmed to Perfil this week that his centre will be in from the start.

“We’re trying to reach agreement between a dozen countries as to how we’re going to follow what’s going on, reaching agreement on the methods to be used in order to be able to compare Argentina’s conclusions with those of Singapore, Spain or Italy,” he explained.

SEARCH AND STUDIES

Until now there is no safe and sure vaccine or specific treatment against Covid-19.

According to the WHO, around 20 vaccines are being studied worldwide and just in China over 200 tests to evaluate experimental treatments are underway. In a bid to introduce some order into this frantic race to see who comes first and place the knowledge within everybody’s reach, the WHO director-general has appealed for unity and a joint international effort.

Solidarity 1 will seek to evaluate via controlled clinical testing the effectiveness of four medicines used until now against other illnesses: the novel antiviral drug remdesivir; the lopinavir/ritonav ir combo used against AIDS: the same combo plus beta interferon; and chloroquine used for many decades against malaria.

Last Thursday US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would resort to chloroquine to fight coronavirus, assuring that he expected it to be “available almost immediately.” However, many experts have called for prudence, underline the lack of any solid clinical data as to its effects.

In Argentina, Health Minister Ginés González García confirmed that this drug is starting to be tried out on patients infected with coronavirus at Hospital Posadas.

“Until now the first reports have been mildly positive,” he admitted to Radio Mitre.

According to Ghebreyesus, the testing will follow simplified procedures so that even overloaded hospitals can participate.

“This virus confronts us with an unprecedented threat,” declared the WHO leader, adding: “but also an unprecedented opportunity to unite against a common enemy, an enemy of humanity.”

by BY LUCIANA DÍAZ & FLORENCIA BALLARINO

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