A clinical trial in 52 countries would study three anti-inflammatory drugs as potential treatments for COVID-19 patients, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday.
"These therapies — artesunate, imatinib and infliximab — were selected by an independent expert panel for their potential in reducing the risk of death in hospitalised COVID-19 patients," it said in a statement on the Solidarity PLUS trial. Artesunate is already used for severe malaria, imatinib for certain cancers, and infliximab for diseases of the immune system such as Crohn's Disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The original Solidarity trial last year found that all four treatments evaluated — remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon — had little or no effect in helping COVID patients. So far, only corticosteroids have been proven effective against severe and critical COVID-19. The WHO said artesunate, produced by Ipca, is used to treat malaria. In the trial, it will be administered intravenously for seven days, using the standard dose recommended for the treatment of severe malaria. Imatinib, produced by Novartis, is used to treat certain cancers. In the trial, it will be administered orally, once daily, for 14 days. Infliximab, produced by Johnson and Johnson, is used to treat diseases of the immune system. In the trial, it will be administered intravenously as a single dose.