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‘Discovery’ trial of Covid-19 treatments urged to expand patient sample

A British lab involved in the Discovery trial in Cheshire, northwest England, pictured on April 22, 2020.
A British lab involved in the Discovery trial in Cheshire, northwest England, pictured on April 22, 2020. © Paul Ellis, AFP

A European clinical trial of four experimental treatments in the fight against Covid-19 is yet to produce conclusive evidence regarding the drugs’ effectiveness, according to an independent committee tasked with analysing the findings.

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“The committee told us to keep adding [new patients]” to the trial, said Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of infectious diseases at France’s Inserm, a biomedical research agency that is coordinating the trial.

Launched in late March, the “Discovery” trial aims to evaluate four experimental treatments, including one using lupus drug hydroxychloroquine that was made popular by Marseille researcher Didier Raoult.

The trial was initially supposed to include 3,200 patients from at least seven countries, including 800 from France. But according to French media reports, only the French contingent has been made available, leaving researchers with a patient sample that is too small to test a variety of treatments. 

Speaking to AFP, Professor Yazdanpanah said the committee’s evaluation suggested its members were satisfied that the trial “does not present a problem of toxicity” and could therefore be extended.

The recommendation to continue the trial also suggested the committee “sees some scope for the treatments to prove their effectiveness [against Covid-19] once more patients are included", the researcher added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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