Sixteen Swiss hospitals take part in coronavirus global Solidarity trial

University Hospital Lausanne is coordinating the trial in Switzerland. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

Some 1,000 patients in Switzerland are expected to participate in trials of experimental treatments for Covid-19 as part of the WHO global Solidarity trial.

This content was published on April 9, 2020 - 18:31

Launched in March under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, the Solidarity trialExternal link aims to generate reliable data on the effectiveness and side effects of potential treatments.

While randomized clinical trials normally take years to design and conduct, the Solidarity trial is expected to reduce the time by 80% by enrolling patients in one single randomized trial. This will overcome the risk of multiple small trials not generating strong enough evidence.

The WHO has selected four therapies for testing based on laboratory, animal and clinical studies evidence of their potential to treat Covid-19. This includes remdesivir, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir plus ritonavir, and interferon-beta. Novartis recently announced it was donating up to 130 million doses of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in part to advance clinical trials.

Switzerland is one of some 70 countries participating in the effort along with France, Spain, South Africa and Canada. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has provided CHF1.6 million to the global trial and is working closely with the Federal Office of Public Health. Lausanne University Hospital CHUV is coordinating Switzerland’s participation in the tiral.

The sixteen hospital centres are the university hospitals of Lausanne, Geneva, Bern and Basel, the hospital networks of Valais and Neuchâtel, along with several cantonal hospitals. The hospitals are expected to recruit up to 1,000 patients to take part in the study according to a statementExternal link from CHUV.

The trial in Switzerland is expected to last from three months to one year but will depend in part on the evolution of the epidemic. The study may include up to 1,000 adult hospitalized patients who have not yet received treatment with Covid-19.

According to the WHOExternal link, patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and who have consented to be part of the study will be randomly selected to receive either local standard care alone or local standard care and one of a list of study drugs.

SNSF also announced that it has received 284 grant applicationsExternal link for its special call for coronavirus research issued in March. Funding decisions are expected to be communicated around mid-May 2020.

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