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WHO Solidarity Trial Consortium (2022).

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Prof Helen Rees and Prof Thesla Palanee-Phillips were co–authors of an article published in The Lancet in May 2022 providing the final results of The WHO Solidarity trial. This trial was the world’s largest randomized control trial on COVID-19 therapeutics and was launched in 2020 during the pandemic to investigate how effective four antiviral drugs were treating patients hospitalised with COVID-19. The trial generated conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of repurposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19. Prof Helen Rees was co-principal investigator for South Africa, and Prof Thesla Palanee-Phillips, was national coordinator.

Results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, coordinated by the World Health Organization, indicate that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients. The study, which spanned more than 30 countries, looked at the effects of these treatments on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalized patients. Other uses of the drugs, for example in treatment of patients in the community or for prevention, would have to be examined using different trials. The progress achieved by the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial shows that large international trials are possible, even during a pandemic, and offer the promise of quickly and reliably answering critical public health questions concerning therapeutics. It was a massive study, involving 14 221 patients at 454 hospitals in 35 countries. Wits RHI coordinated the South African component supporting the participation of 14 academic hospital sites across all provinces in South Africa. Only one of the four antivirals, remdesivir, was found to have a small effect in preventing death or progression to ventilation among hospitalised patients.

WHO Solidarity Trial Consortium (2022).

Remdesivir and three other drugs for hospitalised patients with COVID-19: final results of the WHO Solidarity randomised trial and updated meta-analyses.
The Lancet, 399(10339), 1941–1953. 

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