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Largest clinical trial in Africa to treat mild COVID-19 cases

November 25, 2020

By Jorge Joaquim

13 African countries and an international network of research institutions have joined forces to launch the largest COVID-19 clinical trial in mild-to-moderate outpatients in Africa.  The ANTICOV clinical trial aims to respond to the urgent need to identify treatments that can be used to treat mild and moderate cases of COVID-19 early and prevent spikes in hospitalization that could overwhelm fragile and already overburdened health systems in Africa.

The clinical trial will be carried out at 19 sites in 13 countries by the ANTICOV consortium, which includes 26 prominent African and global research and development (R&D) organizations, coordinated by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), an international non-profit drug research and development (R&D) group with extensive partnerships in Africa.

“There is a need for large clinical trials in Africa for COVID-19 to answer research questions that are specific to an African context,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “African countries have mounted an impressive response so far to COVID-19 and now is the time to prepare for future waves of the disease”.

ANTICOV is an open-label, randomised, comparative, ‘adaptive platform trial’ that will test the safety and efficacy of treatments in 2,000 to 3,000 mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan, and Uganda. ANTICOV aims to identify early treatments that can prevent progression of COVID-19 to severe disease and potentially limit transmission.

“Africa has for the most part avoided the large-scale mortality seen in other countries, but with lockdowns ending and borders opening, we need to be prepared” said Dr Borna Nyaoke-Anoke, Senior Clinical Project Manager at DNDi, which is also the sponsor for clinical trials in the DRC, Kenya, and Sudan.  “We need research here in Africa that will inform policies and test-and-treat strategies, so that as clinicians we can give the best options to people with COVID-19.”

Initially, ANTICOV will focus on drugs where large-scale randomized clinical trials could provide missing efficacy data in mild-to-moderate patients. The trial will begin testing, against a control arm, the HIV antiretroviral combination lopinavir/ritonavir and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which remains the standard of care for COVID-19 today in numerous African countries.

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