General COVID-19 Research
The World Health Organization is evaluating remdesivir, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir with and without interferon-beta versus supportive care in the SOLIDARITY COVID-19 trial. The trial has an adaptive design, so that other drugs can be added at a later time. A European trial, DISCOVERY is being set up with the same parameters.
After receiving an Orphan Drug designation for remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, Gilead returned the designation after being criticized for abusing the drug approval system. Orphan Drug status is for drugs with patient populations under 200,000 and COVID-19 quickly surpassed that total.
The abstract of the Chinese trial is now available in English online, so our revised summary is: In a 30 patient Chinese trial, 86.7% of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine achieved viral clearance at seven days compared to 93.3% in patients with COVID-19. Temperature normalization was the same at one day in the two groups. The text of the study is in Chinese. Analysts have questioned the results since patients in the control group received lopinavir/ritonavir or umifenovir and most patients in the hydroxyquinine group also received umifenovir and all hydroxychloroquinine patients received interferon-alpha.
Vir has created two monoclonal antibodies for the COVID-19 virus and sent supplies to WuXi Biologics and Biogen to create a manufacturing process for a clinical trial supply. Vir anticipates that clinical trials will begin this summer. Vir is examining ways to lengthen the duration of effect of the antibodies and to preserve immunity like a vaccine.