What you need to know:
The collaboration dubbed ANTICOV is an international network of research institutions that aim to launch the largest Covid-19 clinical trial in mild-to-moderate outpatients in Africa
Scientists in Uganda and twelve countries in Africa have joined forces to conduct the biggest clinical trial aimed at finding an effective drug for treating Covid-19 patients.
With limited intensive care facilities in Africa, the question of how Covid-19 patients can be treated earlier and stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed has remained the major pursuit of health experts on the continent.
The collaboration dubbed ANTICOV is an international network of research institutions that aim to launch the largest Covid-19 clinical trial in mild-to-moderate outpatients in Africa.
“There is a need for large clinical trials in Africa for a Covid-19 vaccine to answer research questions that are specific to an African context,” Dr John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Tuesday during the launch of the programme in Kinshasa, DR Congo.
He added: “African countries have mounted an impressive response so far to Covid-19 and now is the time to prepare for future waves of the disease.”
The drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, which has remained a standard of care for Covid-19 treatment on the continent, have been proven by World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide little or no benefit in curbing the Covid-19 deaths.
The ANTICOV clinical trial aims to respond to the urgent need to identify treatments that can be used to treat mild and moderate cases of Covid-19 early and prevent spikes in hospitalisation that could overwhelm fragile and already overburdened health systems in Africa.
Through this collaboration, scientists plan to test the safety and efficacy of treatments in 2,000 to 3,000 mild-to-moderate Covid-19 patients in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan, and Uganda.
The clinical trial will be carried out at 19 sites in 13 countries by the consortium and shall be coordinated by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), an international non-profit drug research and development (R&D) group with extensive partnerships in Africa.
According to the DNDi, the potential therapeutic options being explored by ANTICOV are medicines currently used to treat malaria, HIV, hepatitis C, parasitic infections, and certain cancers.
“The trial will begin testing, against a control arm, the HIV antiretroviral combination lopinavir/ritonavir and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which remains the standard of care for Covid-19 today in numerous African countries,” the DNDi said in a statement yesterday.
As of Tuesday, the continent had registered 2,080,000 Covid-19 cases and 49, 975 deaths, according to the WHO statistics.