China Launches a Crush of Clinical Trials Aimed at Covid-19
In the quarantined Chinese city of Wuhan, health workers fighting the explosive outbreak of a new coronavirus have been improvising for weeks, trying to provide whatever care they can for Covid-19 patients whose symptoms range from a cough and fever to severe pneumonia, septic shock, and organ failure. In addition to treating these symptoms with oxygen therapy, ventilators, and antibiotics, doctors there have also resorted to experimentation. With no approved treatments for any of the illnesses caused by coronaviruses, health workers have been trying everything from steroids and antibodies to drugs normally intended for HIV and influenza. But because these treatments have been dispensed on a case-by-case basis, without any rigorous, centralized tracking of results, it’s hard to know if any of them are effective against the new disease.
Now, researchers in China are racing to launch more systematic tests of these repurposed medicines. Since January 28, scientists have registered 19 clinical trials in China, and at least a few have already begun dosing patients. With initial results expected as early as April, the swift leap into clinical research is an important one for frontline health workers desperate for hard evidence about which therapies work best. The trick will be making sure that evidence stacks up.