The Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea have started recruiting participants to test a new drug to treat people with mild to moderate forms of Covid-19.
The study called Anticov is the largest trial in the continent to identify early Covid-19 treatments.
“It has been more than a year since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, and while we have vaccines registered for use, there are still very few treatment options – especially for the early stage when we could prevent severe progression, potentially reduce transmission, and maybe prevent the risk of developing post-Covid conditions,” said Dr Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, the director of the Covid-19 Response for Drugs for Neglected Diseases Institute.
Researchers in these countries will be testing a combination of two drugs – nitazoxanide and ciclesonide.
Nitazoxanide, is aimed at stopping the replication of the virus, while ciclesonide decreases the likelihood of one having an inflammation making it difficult for them to breathe when infected with Covid-19.
“As we face a mutating virus that challenges the tools we have to fight Covid-19, research into promising treatments has never been more important. It is vital to work out which therapeutics we can add to the existing package of patient care – and how they can be best-adapted for use in low-resource settings,” said Dr Philippe Duneton, the executive director of Unitaid, a global health agency.
There are currently no known treatments for Covid-19.
Other countries that will join in include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan and Uganda.
Both drugs are already commercially available and will be affordable and easy to access and administer, if shown to be effective against Covid-19.