India will participate in a multi-country trial to identify potential cures for the Covid-19 outbreak, the country’s top health research body said on Friday.
“In order to look at the newer drugs that might come, we are also likely to start our participation in the solidarity trial that WHO is starting,” said RR Gangakhedkar, chief epidemiologist of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“Earlier, we did not participate because our numbers were so small that our contribution would have looked minuscule…,” he added.
Over 50 drugs and experimental cocktails are being examined as treatments for the infection.
The World Health Organisation’s Solidarity trial is expected to witness participation from Thailand, Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland. The trial will not only test four different drugs or combinations but will also compare their effectiveness.
Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at WHO, said the trial will provide “definitive evidence” about the “efficacy and safety of drugs.”
“Regarding the data on anti-HIV and other antiviral drugs against Covid-19, the trials performed till date have been small and inconclusive. That is why this global study is being proposed by WHO. It will answer the main public health questions, and help to save lives,” Swaminathan added.
ICMR said it had also decided to look at “repurposed molecules” and go for in-vitro testing on the isolates that India had generated so far. Earlier, ICMR said it had isolated the virus. “We get a clearer clue on whether the drug works in the laboratory against this particular strain. If it works, we can take it up for subsequent trials,” added Gangakhedkar.