Mar 27, 2020

By Jane Brown

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Scientists associated with more than a dozen Canadian hospitals will begin enrolling patients as part of an unprecedented global collaboration to test four potential treatments for the new coronavirus, which currently has no vaccine or cure.

The multi-national trial, dubbed Solidarity, is being coordinated by the World Health Organization with a goal to involve thousands of patients from around the world.

If it succeeds, doctors will have some evidence-based research for deciding which drugs to use, or exclude, when treating patients with severe cases of COVID-19.

Microscopic illustration of the spreading 2019 corona virus that was discovered in Wuhan, China. The image is an artisic but scientific interpretation, with all relevant surface details of this particular virus in place, including Spike Glycoproteins, Hemagglutinin-esterase, E- and M-Proteins and Envelope.

A vaccine for COVID-19 is said to be at least a year away.

“This is a global, coordinated mega-trial,” said Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease and critical care specialist and associate professor with the University of British Columbia, who sits on the global steering committee for Solidarity.

The Canadian arm of the global trial, dubbed CATCO (Canadian Treatments for COVID-19), is being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which provided nearly $1 million as a part of the federal government’s $275-million commitment towards supporting medical research for COVID-19.

Murthy said at least 15 Canadian sites have signed on so far, including Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Canadian sponsor of the trial, and three other GTA hospitals.

Other participating countries include Argentina, Bahrain, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and Spain. Three countries that are notably absent from the collaboration, however, are China, Italy and the United States; the nations hardest hit by COVID-19 so far, collectively reporting more than 245,000 cases.

As of 4 a.m. Friday March 27th, there are 4043 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 39 COVID-19 related deaths and 212 resolved cases.

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