800 patients in France in Covid-19 drug trial

A European clinical trial to test four experimental treatments against Covid-19 began today (Sunday March 22), it has been announced.

22 March 2020
By Sarah Smith (SA)

France’s Minister of Health Olivier Véran said this afternoon: “I have authorised several clinical trials in France, including a chloroquine trial for several hundred hospitalised patients. I will report every positive or negative result."

The full trial involves 3,200 European patients from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain (possibly other countries).

In France the trial will include at least 800 patients suffering from a severe form of the virus.

The National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) in France is coordinating the research. The institute said the trial will be "adaptive", i.e. ineffective trial treatments can be gradually abandoned and replaced by other molecules.

“We analysed the data from the scientific reports (...) to come up with a list of antiviral molecules to be tested,” said Florence Ader, an infectious diseases specialist at the Croix-Rousse hospital at the CHU in  Lyon and a researcher at the CIRI International Center for Infectious Disease Research (Inserm / CNRS / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1), which is piloting the trial, called Discovery.

"The list of these potential drugs is also based on the list of experimental treatments prioritised by the World Health Organization."

"We will therefore be able to react in real time, in line with the most recent scientific data, in order to highlight the best treatment for patients," added Ms Ader.

"Five French hospitals will initially participate (Paris - Hôpital Bichat-AP-HP, Lille, Nantes, Strasbourg, Lyon) and then we will open other centres to reach at least 20 participating establishments," she said.

Yesterday (March 21) the number of cases of Covid-19 registered in France since January 24 reached 14,459 with 562 deaths.

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