The United States is starting a new study that will test three drugs to slow an overactive response by the immune system that can cause severe illness or even death in people who have contracted Covid-19.
For the study, the US National Institutes of Health will enrol 2,100 hospitalised adults with moderate to severe Covid-19 in the United States and Latin America, the Associated Press reported.
All participants in the study will get the antiviral drug Remdesivir plus one of the three “immune-modulating drugs” or a placebo. The drugs are Bristol Myers Squibb’s Orencia, Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade, which are sold now for rheumatoid arthritis, and an experimental drug from AbbVie called Cenicriviroc.
According to the report, these drugs work in different ways to inhibit ‘cytokine storm’ i.e. an overproduction of chemicals that the body produces to fight infections but can also damage lungs, kidneys, heart and other organs.
“These are all different ways of slowing down an overactive immune system,” NIH director Dr Francis Collins, was quoted as saying.
The new study is the fifth and final one in a series of experiments that are designed by a private-public partnership and includes dozens of drug companies, non-profit groups and various US government departments.
Other therapies that are being tested include antibody drugs, anti-inflammatory medicines and plasma from Covid-19 survivors.
Earlier, clinical trial by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that remdesivir had little or no effect on Covid-19 patients’ length of hospital stay or chances of survival.
A ‘Solidarity’ trial by the WHO evaluated the effects of four potential drug regimens — remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, anti-HIV drug combination lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon — in 11,266 adult patients across more than 30 countries.
The study found the regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the length of the in-hospital course among patients hospitalised with Covid-19, the WHO was quoted as saying by Reuters. The results of the trial are yet to be reviewed.
(With inputs from AP)