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WHO calls for more COVID-19 therapeutic trials

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The World Health Organisation through its scientific research arm is calling for an increase in research in the area of therapeutics that can treat COVID-19.

According to the WHO, scientists need to widen their search for treatments for the deadly disease to cover antivirals, immunomodulatory drugs and anti-thrombotic agents as well as combination therapies.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at the WHO told journalists after WHO’s second research and innovation forum that more effort needs to be made in testing other drugs to see what kind of effect they have on COVID-19 at different stages.

The forum brought together more than 1,000 scientists from all over the world to take stock of the progress made so far, discuss new research questions and knowledge gaps and to define research priorities going forward.

Over 100 studies are ongoing in search of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Research carried out so far has shown that Remdesivir helps shorten the recovery time of severe patients hospitalized from 16 to 11 days while the anti-allergy drug dexamethasone can prevent the death of severe patients if given in low doses.

However, most of these drug breakthroughs have taken place in high-income countries like the United Kingdom. Dr Swaminathan says that more research is needed that favours low and middle-income countries.

Over 10 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported globally. With epicentres already having been recorded in Asia, Europe and the United States, Dr Swaminathan says that more research needs to be carried out in Africa because it might be the next epicentre.

“We need to focus more on the needs of middle and lower-income countries. The pandemic affected Europe and North America and now has spread into the world and is now impacting countries with fewer resources and bigger populations,” she said.

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