The World Health Organization (WHO) announced a large global trial, called SOLIDARITY, to find out whether any can treat infections with the new coronavirus for the dangerous respiratory disease. It’s an unprecedented effort—an all-out, coordinated push to collect robust scientific data rapidly during a pandemic. The study, which could include many thousands of patients in dozens of countries, has been designed to be as simple as possible so that even hospitals overwhelmed by an onslaught of COVID-19 patients can participate.1
What is remarkable is that so much political red tape was surmounted so quickly. In fact, this trial has a similar European counterpart, called Discovery, that will include patients from France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Benelux countries. These trials aim to discover as quickly as possible what does and does not work. They are using existing drugs with a familiar track record for safety and efficacy against other viral diseases bearing some similarities to COVID-19.
The drugs being tried include the following: the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the antiviral drug remdesivir, a ritonavir/lopinavir combination, and ritonavir/lopinavir in conjunction with interferon-beta (a molecule involved in regulating immune responses in the body).
No timeline was reported as to when results would be forthcoming. But, it is possible that some initial findings might even give indications of efficacy. These will likely be shared with the medical community and the public at large.
Getting so many politicians, bureaucrats, and clinicians to align for a common purpose so quickly could elicit the exclamation, “That’s a miracle!” Perhaps these clinical trials are an answer to prayer, since “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”2
1. Kupferschmidt, K. and J. Cohen. 2020. WHO launches global megatrial of the four most promising coronavirus treatments. Science. Posted on sciencemag.org March 22, 2020, accessed March 25, 2020.
2. Proverbs 21:1.
*Randy Guliuzza is ICR’s National Representative. He earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Public Health from Harvard University, and served in the U.S. Air Force as 28th Bomb Wing Flight Surgeon and Chief of Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Guliuzza is also a registered Professional Engineer.