WHO global corona study starts in Norway

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The World Health Organization has initiated a large clinial trial to assess promising treatments for covid-19. The first patient included will be a Norwegian patient. The international study is coordinated by John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive at The Research Council of Norway.

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The first patient included in a global WHO corona study will be a Norwegian patient. Clinical pharmacist Katerina Nezvalová-Henriksen is showing the malaria drug plaquenil that will be used. Credit: Photo: Anders Bayer, Oslo University Hospital.

- It is a great recognition for Norwegian research and the Norwegian health care system to be part of this significant trial from the start. Equally so that John-Arne Røttingen will be the global coordinator. I wish to commend everybody who has helped initiative this on such short notice, says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Medicines that slow down or kill the new corona virus can save the lives of critically ill patients. Research can reveal if it is possible to use some medicines to protect health care workers and people at risk. In addition to saving lives and protect against infection, effective treatment can decrease the length of stay for intensive care patients and therefore more hospital beds will be available.

- There are many who are pre-occupied with finding treatments that works on this new disease. It is important to do this in large trials to get robust data and make valid comparisons. I am very pleased that the World Health Organization has taken this initiative, and that we are part of it from the beginning, says Bent Høie, Norwegian minister for Health and Care Services.

The World Health Organisation's global study, Solidarity, will start enrolling patients today. The first patient to participate is a patient at Oslo University Hospital. Oslo University Hospital is leading the Norwegian part of the study. The trial will be conducted at 22 hospitals all over Norway. John-Arne Røttingen, Chief Executive at The Research Council of Norway, will chair the executive committee of the trial globally.

- We need to understand how to best treat those who become ill. We are in the middle of an unprecedented global research effort. The goal is to generate robust knowledge in more or less real time, says John-Arne Røttingen.

About the study

The treatments to be tested is the malaria drug hydroxyklorokin/plaquenil, the Ebola-drug remdesivir and an HIV-treatment (lopinavir/ritonavir) alone or in a combination with a medicine for hepatitis (interferon-β 1a). In Norway, the former two will be part of the trial from the start.

Researchers all over the world will collaborate in order to collect data on how these treatments influence patient survival and duration of hospitalisation and intensive care.

The health regions in Norway contribute 20 million NOK to the trial through the national research programme for clinical trials. In addition to participate in the worldwide data collection it is possible to do national substudies on issues that are more relevant for local environments.