SA to participate in WHO's Solidarity Trial

Thursday, March 19, 2020

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus has announced a global Solidarity Trial to jumpstart the search for COVID-19 treatment.

Many countries have already confirmed that they will join the Solidarity Trial, including South Africa.

Briefing media in Geneva last night, Ghebreyesus said more than 200 000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported to WHO, and more than 8000 people have lost their lives.

However, the first vaccine trial has begun, just 60 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was shared by China.

“This is an incredible achievement. We commend the researchers around the world who have come together to systemically evaluate experimental therapeutics,” he said.

Ghebreyesus explained that multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give the clear, strong evidence needed about which treatments help to save lives.

Therefore WHO and its partners will be organising this study in various countries in which some of these untested treatments are compared with each other.

“This large, international study is designed to generate the robust data we need, to show which treatments are the most effective. We have called this study the Solidarity Trial,” said the Director General.

The Solidarity Trial provides simplified procedures to enable even hospitals that have been overloaded to participate.

Many countries have already confirmed that they will join the Solidarity Trial - Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand.

Ghebreyesus said he trusts many more countries will join.

Meanwhile, the Director General said many countries are facing escalating epidemics and are feeling overwhelmed. Different countries and communities are in different situations, with different levels of transmission.

Every day, WHO is talking to ministers of health, heads of state, health workers, hospital managers, industry leaders, CEOs and more – to help them prepare and prioritize, according to their specific situation.

He said there were many things all countries can do.

“Physical distancing measures – like cancelling sporting events, concerts and other large gatherings – can help to slow transmission of the virus.

“They can reduce the burden on the health system. And they can help to make epidemics manageable, allowing targeted and focused measures.

“But to suppress and control epidemics, countries must isolate, test, treat and trace. If they don’t, transmission chains can continue at a low level, then resurge once physical distancing measures are lifted,” said Ghebreyesus.

WHO continues to recommend that isolating, testing and treating every suspected case, and tracing every contact, must be the backbone of the response in every country.

This is the best hope of preventing widespread community transmission. –