KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Ministry of Health will start clinical trials on Covid-19 patients soon as part of a global effort to treat the coronavirus, its director general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.
In his daily press briefing today, Dr Noor Hisham said nine public hospitals will be participating, using four treatment regiments using a combination of Remdesivir, Lopinavir/Ritonavir, Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine, and Inferon Beta.
“In this regard, MOH will start a clinical study to test the efficacy and safety of Remdesivir drugs for treatment Covid-19 patients in the near future.
“Nine MOH hospitals participating in WHO Solidarity Trial is ready to start the intake of test participants among Covid-19 patients that have met the set criteria,” he said.
The clinical trials were part of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Solidarity Trial which were launched by the organisation in an effort to test several medicines for their effectiveness and safety in treating Covid-19.
Dr Noor Hisham explained that the trials could be administered to Covid-19 patients which are split into five categories: those who are asymptomatic, those who have pneumonia but do not need respiratory help, those who have pneumonia and need respiratory help, and those who are at the later stage of Covid-19 and need respiratory aid.
He explained that Covid-19 patients who are not asymptomatic might not be included in the trials.
Dr Noor Hisham also stated that the Medical Research and Ethics Committee (MREC), in cooperation with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), has acted as the regulatory body to approve the clinical trials.
The studies will evaluate three key aspects, which cover safety, quality and early efficacy aspects of the drugs.
Due to the urgency to fight Covid-19, MREC and NPRA had approved the clinical research protocols and import license of the Remdesivir drug within four days, however, Dr Noor Hisham stressed that they maintained the quality evaluation procedures that is required by international regulatory bodies.
On March 27, Dr Noor Hisham stated that WHO has chosen Malaysia as one of the countries that will conduct joint research on the Remdesivir drug that is used to treat the Covid-19 infection.
He further explained that Malaysia was picked because of its ability to conduct the research and also due to the availability of good medical research facilities.
Remdesivir is a new anti-viral drug used as a treatment for Ebola virus and Marburg virus infections, though it subsequently was found to show antiviral activity against other single stranded RNA viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus, Junin virus, Lassa fever virus, Nipah virus, Hendra virus, and the coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS viruses.