Leading journal NEJM publishes two WHO papers related to COVID-19
In the past week, the NEJM has published two significant papers from WHO: “Repurposed Antiviral Drugs for Covid-19 – Interim WHO Solidarity Trial Results” and “Placebo-Controlled Trials of Covid-19 Vaccines – Why We Still Need Them”.
In the first, the R&D Blueprint published the interim results of the Solidarity Trial. In just six months, thanks to close collaboration within the global scientific community, the Solidarity Trial generated evidence on the impact the repurposed drugs remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and interferon had on mortality, the need for ventilation, and duration of hospital stay.
Despite the unpromising results concerning these four antiviral drugs, this trial demonstrated the success of the global platform, which can now be used for further evaluations of new treatment options. It also proved that it is possible to run large international trials and to provide reliable answers to critical public health questions rapidly.
In the second paper, a perspective piece, the authors, from the WHO Ad Hoc Expert Group on the Next Steps for Covid-19 Vaccine Evaluation, present the reasons to continue to collect high quality information, while it is still feasible and ethical, using randomized placebo-controlled trials. They argue that continuing to collect this data, through a concerted global effort, would improve the probability of identifying multiple vaccines with favorable benefit–risk profiles. By gaining public confidence in the vaccine, these studies would contribute further to ending the pandemic.