The first patient is enrolled in WHO solidarity trial for coronavirus
  • During a World Health Organization media briefing Friday, Norway’s minister of health and care services said a patient in his country is the first to enroll in the WHO-led “solidarity trial.”
  • The trial, which includes 45 countries and counting, will test four drugs and drug combinations’ effectiveness against the novel coronavirus
  • Since a vaccine is still more than a year away, according to the WHO director-general, the “historic” trial will “dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work.”
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The first patient is now enrolled in a global “solidarity trial” comparing the safety and effectiveness of four drugs and drug combinations against the novel coronavirus, Norway’s minister of health and care services, Bent Høie, said during a World Health Organization media briefing Friday. 

Høie said the trial starts today, and that the first patient is someone at Oslo University Hospital. 

“We are in a middle of a global health emergency. We are also in the middle of a global quest for knowledge unlike anything we have ever seen,” he said. “If you find treatments that are safe and effective, we can save lives and we can protect healthcare professionals and other high-risk groups from developing disease.” 

The trial, which World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus first discussed March 18, includes more than 45 countries around the world and will “dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work,” Tedros said Friday. 

“The more countries that join the trial, the faster we will have the results,” he said. That’s critical, he said, since an effective vaccine is still 12 to 18 months away

In the meantime, Tedros said, people should not be using untested treatments for COVID-19

“The history of medicine is strewn with examples of drugs that worked on paper or in a test tube, but didn’t work in humans or were actually harmful,” he said, noting some drugs that were used to fight Ebola ended up not being that effective when compared to others in a clinical trial.

Tedros also warned against using unproven, off-label drugs for COVID-19, because that could create a shortage for people who need them to treat other conditions. 

“We must follow the evidence,” he said. “There are no shortcuts.”

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