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Amid the rapid spread of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) infection, companies and researchers around the world are working to develop a vaccine and effective treatments.

Trials of vaccines and potential drugs are already underway in China and the US. Researchers are investigating if existing medicines could help treat the new viral disease.

Covid-19 trial in the UK

Researchers from the University of Oxford have initiated a clinical trial to assess different drugs as potential treatment options for Covid-19 in hospitalised adult patients.

Named RECOVERY, the trial will initially evaluate HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, and anti-inflammation medication dexamethasone. The trial could be expanded to add other drugs in the future.

Trial chief investigator and University of Oxford professor Peter Horby said: “There is an urgent need for reliable evidence on the best care for patients with Covid-19. Providing possible new treatments through a well-designed clinical trial is the best way to get that evidence.

“Adults admitted to hospital with Covid-19 should be offered the opportunity to participate in this trial and contribute to improving care for everyone. All patients will receive the standard full medical care, regardless of which treatment group they are placed in.”

Covid-19 trial in Canada

Montreal Heart Institute’s Research Center in Canada has initiated a clinical trial to assess a short-term therapy for mitigating the risk of pulmonary complications and deaths in Covid-19 patients.

The COLCORONA study is funded by the Government of Quebec and coordinated by the Montreal Health Innovations Coordinating Center. Pharmascience and CGI are providing support.

The trial will investigate the inflammatory storm characterised in adults with severe Covid-19 complications and the treatment’s ability to reduce disease complications in around 6,000 participants.

Covid-19 trial in Europe

A clinical trial, referred to as Discovery, has been launched by French firm Inserm to assess potential Covid-19 treatments as part of the Reacting consortium.

The study will analyse the safety and efficacy of four investigational therapies in a minimum of 800 severe Covid-19 patients in France.

Trial lead Florence Ader said: “We analysed data from the scientific literature on SARS and MERS coronaviruses and the first publications on SARS-COV2 from China in order to come up with a list of antiviral molecules to be tested. Remdesivir, lopinavir and ritonavir in combination, the latter being administered with or without interferon beta and hydroxychloroquine.”

The Discovery trial is expected to enrol 3,200 participants across France, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.