Why clinical trials are important in medical research

Wednesday February 24 2021
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By Guest Writer

The fight against Covid-19 is a multi-pronged process. However, the buzz has focused on vaccines forgetting that treatment is important too. Vaccines are a preventive measure and, therefore, not designed for everyone. 
There is still a need for treatment for those with severe and light symptoms of Covid-19. For example, patients in intensive care units (ICU) need medication to keep their lungs from getting damaged, those with minor symptoms need medication to safely manage the illness. 

Uganda recently launched a clinical trial for Covid-19 treatment. The World Health Organisation defines clinical trials as a type of research that studies new tests and treatments and evaluates their effects on human health outcomes. 
Before treatment or vaccine is cleared for dispensing in hospitals and pharmacies, it has to undergo this process on a selected team of volunteers. 
People of all ages can take part in clinical trials, including children. 

 Before regulators give an all-clear of any treatment, it should have undergone these phases: 
• Phase I - studies usually test new drugs for the first time in a small group of people to evaluate a safe dosage and identify side effects.
• Phase II - studies test treatments that are safe in phase I, but now need a larger group of human subjects to monitor for any adverse effects.

• Phase III - studies are conducted on larger populations and in different regions and countries and are often the step right before a new treatment is approved.
• Phase IV - studies take place after country approval and there is a need for further testing in a wide population over time.
Clinical trials are carefully designed, reviewed, and are a highly regulated process. In Uganda, this process is regulated by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, the National Drug Authority, and the Uganda National Health Research Organisation. 

Karl Raymond Kaddu,