Pandemic progress Mahidol University launches trial on effectiveness of antiviral drug treatments in defeating Covid

Asia's Tech News Daily
Pandemic progress  Mahidol University launches trial on effectiveness of antiviral drug treatments  in defeating Covid

Researcher at work. Photo by courtesy of Mahidol University’s Faculty of Tropical Medicine. Mahidol University’s Faculty of Tropical Medicine

When the Covid-19 crisis unfolded two years ago, researchers scrambled to uncover the source of and cure for the killer virus. At the time, there were no medicines. Soon after, vaccine development kicked off, giving hope of protection to us all.

However, a stone has been left unturned in the comparative study of antiviral drugs. Confusion remains about the effectiveness of these pills. Some are existing drugs that can be repurposed for treatment, others are new products that are designed to be antiviral by nature.

In hope of finding the right cure for the novel coronavirus disease, Mahidol University and Oxford University are conducting the world’s first platform trial titled Platcov on the effectiveness of four antiviral drugs for treating patients with mild symptoms. Depending on the number of participants, trial results will likely come out in the next few months.

Researchers are testing two oral pills, favipiravir and ivermectin, and two shots, remdesivir and monoclonal antibody treatment (made by Regeneron). However, they can expand the list to test new gamechangers, like molnupiravir and paxlovid.

Hard evidence, not strong opinion

“It is the first study of its time in the world,” said Prof Sir Nicholas John White, an expert at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit. It will show which drugs have antiviral effects for evidence-based decision-making because researchers have not carried out any assessment.

“All sorts of different drugs have been proposed. Many countries use different drug treatment or recommend different drug treatment because there is no clear information on which one is better than the other one,” he told a press conference last week.

These four drugs are basically administered to different groups of patients. Favipiravir is the staple pill for those with moderate symptoms. Remdesivir must be given by injection to those who are in critical condition or have drug absorption issues. Meanwhile, monoclonal antibody treatment is used to treat those at risk of severe symptoms.

However, the off-label application of ivermectin has been quite controversial. Normally used to treat parasitic infections like river blindness, the drug has been hailed a miracle cure for the coronavirus in Latin America and South Africa and promoted by former US president Donald Trump despite being unproven.

Dr White said that these four drugs are the most widely discussed, but there are many others too, such as hydroxychloroquine and nitazoxanide, but the problem is that no one is clear whether they really work, leading to widespread debate. It is very politicised and difficult in these circumstances to understand what the truth is.

“We want hard evidence, not strong opinion. We are trying to provide evidence that will allow you to choose between drugs,” he said.

Dr White said while some will win, others will lose, but the public will receive the best drug treatment. He agreed that officials made decisions based on limited evidence.

“That is why there is so much difference. We all have access to the same information, but why are treatment recommendations so different in many countries? That is because there is no clear evidence,” he said.

Pandemic progress  Mahidol University launches trial on effectiveness of antiviral drug treatments  in defeating Covid

Photo: hal gatewood / unsplash.com

Measuring recovery and viral load

Asst Prof Dr Viravarn Luvira, lecturer at Mahidol University’s Faculty of Tropical Medicine, said patients will show symptoms after the incubation period of two-to-five days. The amount of virus will go up in the first week and down the second week due to immune response. However, it will damage many organs, like lung and liver tissue. Patients will get worse and likely die.

“Antiviral drugs play a crucial role in reducing viral load and inflammation in the first week. But if patients receive late treatment, immunosuppressants will be used in the second week. Our study focuses on the effectiveness of antiviral drugs and needs patients who have high viral load. Vaccine development has fared well, but we need more information on antiviral drugs,” she said.

Dr Viravarn said research is being conducted in many countries, including Thailand, Indonesia and Brazil. It recruits 750 volunteers, 200 of whom are Thai patients from three partner hospitals. It evaluates four antiviral drugs and differs from previous studies that compared a specific drug with control groups (unmedicated or given the other drug).

“We will measure the clinical recovery rate and the decline in viral load to assess how effective each drug is by performing throat swabs for a week. You won’t be hurt the same as when you undergo nasal swab, but will feel ticklish. Samples will be sent for laboratory testing,” she said.

The RT-qPCR technique yields fast and accurate results. It is a collaboration between Mahidol University’s Faculty of Tropical Medicine and Thermo Fisher Scientific. Researchers have conducted the study for two months already and plan to produce an interim analysis when the number of participants, now 40, reaches 50.

Dr Viravarn said participants must meet requirements to take part in this study. Basically, they must be mild patients (within four days of symptom onset), and aged 18-50 years old. They must not have chronic diseases or risk conditions and not use antiviral drugs. Women who join the trial must not be pregnant or breastfeeding.

“Patients will be looked after in hospital for at least a week. After being discharged for home treatment, they will make follow-up visits on the 14th day and receive checkup calls on the 28th day. The study lasts around one month,” she said.

Pandemic progress  Mahidol University launches trial on effectiveness of antiviral drug treatments  in defeating Covid

Researcher at work. Mahidol University’s Faculty of Tropical Medicine

Expanding the trial

The platform trial on the effectiveness of four antiviral drugs coincides with the procurement of two new tablets. According to the Ministry of Public Health, molnupiravia will be available for local use by early next year, while paxlovid is waiting for authorisation in the US. Thailand is not part of their manufacturing deals because it is an upper middle income country.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters on Nov 17 that current antiviral drugs like favipiravir remain effective, but procurement of the two new pills is intended for health security in case some patients need them.

Assoc Prof Dr Weerapong Phumratanaprapin, dean of Mahidol University’s Faculty of Tropical Medicine, said researchers can study these new pills when they are available. Of the four current drugs, monoclonal antibody treatment yields promising results, but at a high price.

“We need more information on three others for comparison with the positive control group [monoclonal antibody treatment] and the negative control group [the unmedicated],” he said.

Asst Prof Dr Wiroj Ruksakul, deputy dean of Navamindradhiraj University’s Faculty of Medicine, Vajira Hospital, said the study will evaluate drugs in the same environment and therefore offer accurate trial results to determine treatment guidelines.

“Some drugs are expensive; others are affordable, which suits our country,” he said.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Cannabis 'pushed off' drugs list ONCB source says draft may flout pacts

The Ministry of Public Health's committee on narcotic control yesterday endorsed a draft ministerial announcement under a new drug law that excludes some cannabis from the narcotics list. Dr Thongchai ... Read more »

B1.49tn plan for transport infrastructure Project to improve land, sea, air links

The government has unveiled a plan to invest in various megaprojects worth an estimated 1.49 trillion baht this year, to improve Thailand's land, sea and air connectivity. Transport Minister Saksayam ... Read more »

Cops probe aged care abuse

Police are seeking a warrant to summon the owner of two nursing homes in Lat Krabang and Nong Chok districts that left elderly residents having to contend with substandard living ... Read more »

'Test & Go' to resume Feb 1 with extra test requirement

The “Test & Go” programme for international visitors is set to resume on Feb 1, with stricter requirements which include another RT-PCR test to be taken on the fifth day ... Read more »

Phuket wary of travel call involving sealed route

Pichet: Hotel isolation Authorities in Phuket on Thursday gave a lukewarm response to an idea that Covid-infected tourists with no symptoms could be allowed to travel via a sealed route. ... Read more »

Pork find spurs more cold storage checks Swine raisers warn against import plan

Livestock authorities inspect a cold-storage warehouse in Songkhla’s Chana district on Thursday after the discovery of 200-plus tonnes of unverified pork stored there. The food giant Betagro said the company ... Read more »

State vows to maintain price controls

The government has pledged to cap the prices of diesel and cooking gas for as long as possible to stabilise the costs of consumer goods. Speaking after a joint meeting ... Read more »

PM rules out early election PPRP purge will lead to 'uncertainty'

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha holds a media briefing after a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration at Government House on Thursday. (Government House photo) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ... Read more »

Weathering the storm Analysis: Capt Thamanat's ouster won't faze PM

Prayut: Ace up sleeve Academics believe Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha still has an ace up his sleeve and will deal with pressure for political changes and steer the government forward ... Read more »

Central bank to issue 20-baht polymer banknotes in March

The Bank of Thailand plans to start issuing 20-baht polymer banknotes on March 24. The Bank of Thailand plans to start issuing 20-baht polymer banknotes on March 24. The new ... Read more »

Tourism groups urge PCR price cut Lower costs may help travel sentiment

People wait outside a swab station located inside Suvarnabhumi airport. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb) Tourism operators want the government to reduce the cost of RT-PCR tests as all inbound travellers now ... Read more »

Trauma isn't just psychological. It can impact your body too.

It may feel like you’re on edge. You may start to sweat. Your heart may race, your fists may clench. Trauma isn’t only a person’s emotional and psychological reaction to ... Read more »

How to improve your gut health with exercise

These targeted exercises can help with bloating, inflammation and gas. Read more »

Coronavirus at work: can your boss ask if you have been vaccinated?

Photo: Shutterstock The employment law experts at GMW lawyers share insights on your rights in the workplace regarding corona vaccination, and when it is worth contacting a lawyer. The rules ... Read more »

Illegal job seekers from Myanmar caught in Kanchanaburi

Eighty-three migrants from Myanmar are found hiding in a cave in Kanchanaburi province on Thursday. (Photo by Piyarat Chongcharoen) KANCHANABURI: Eighty-three people were arrested after crossing the border illegally from ... Read more »

Man robs, sets fire to convenience store in Korat

A man wearing a motorcycle helmet, sets fire to a counter of a convenience store in Nakhon Ratchasima province on Thursday. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert) NAKHON RATCHASIMA – A robber ... Read more »

10 Chinese 'scammers' nabbed

Police arrest 10 Chinese nationals for allegedly operating a call centre scam and online gambling during a raid on two condo units in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo supplied by Wassayos ... Read more »

10 Chinese nabbed for 'running call centre scam, online gambling'

Police arrest 10 Chinese nationals for allegedly operating a call centre scam and online gambling during a raid on two condo units in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo supplied by Wassayos ... Read more »

Thailand plans B1.4 trillion infrastructure investment

Suvarnabhumi Airport in December 2021. (Photo by Bangkok Post) Thailand plans new infrastructure projects worth 1.4 trillion baht (US$42.55 billion) this year, which are expected to create 154,000 new jobs, ... Read more »

10 Chinese nabbed for allegedly running call centre scam, online gambling

Police arrest 10 Chinese nationals for allegedly operating a call centre scam and online gambling during a raid on two condo units in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo supplied by Wassayos ... Read more »

Elton John says hello again with resumed goodbye tour

Elton John performs as he returns to complete his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour since it was postponed due to coronavirus disease restrictions in 2020, in New Orleans on Wednesday. ... Read more »

Tourism trade wants test price cut

Tourism operators want the government to reduce the cost of a RT-PCR test as all inbound travellers have to bear a higher cost from undergoing two tests and an additional ... Read more »

Academics: PPRP squabble risks early polls

From left: Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and Capt Thamanat Prompow (File photos) The ouster of an influential Thai lawmaker and his supporters from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) in the ruling ... Read more »

Police raid Same Sky publishing in search of book on monarchy

Police talk to Same Sky publishing house editor Thanapol Eawsakul during the raid at his office in Muang district of Nonthaburi province on Thursday. (Photo: Same Sky Facebook account) About ... Read more »

Austria parliament to approve mandatory Covid vaccination

FILE PHOTO: Austria’s chancellor Karl Nehammer attends the presentation of plans to introduce mandatory coronavirus disease vaccinations for all in Vienna, Austria, Jan 16, 2022. (Reuters) Austria's parliament on Thursday ... Read more »

Khon Kaen Municipality sets aside B200m for its pawn shops

This stone pestle and mortar was among items pledged at a pawnshop run by the Khon Kaen Municipality in Khon Kaen province.(Photo: Chakrapan Natari) KHON KAEN: Khon Kaen Municipality has ... Read more »

Fly Green with Thai Vietjet from just THB 495

Welcoming the peak season of travel, Thai Vietjet on 20 January 2022 launched an exclusive promotion, ‘Fly Green Sale’, offering special domestic fares starting from just THB 495 (inclusive of ... Read more »

The standard, hua hin celebrates chinese new year with creative cuisine and ancient healing

Guests are invited to a collaborative four-hand, five-course dinner at Praça on 31st January, followed by authentic ear seeding on 1st February, as time-honoured traditions fuse with contemporary style Chinese ... Read more »

Palang Pracharath expects more unity after Thamanat's expulsion

Then-secretary-general Thamanat Prompow returns a wai to reporters during a meeting of the Palang Pracharath Party on Nov 27. (File photo: Apichart Jinakul) The Palang Pracharath executive decided to expel ... Read more »

Thai GDP expected to grow 3.5%-4.5% in 2022 despite Omicron - FinMin

FILE PHOTO: Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith speaks at the “Bangkok Post International Forum 2021: Unleashing the Future: A Glimpse into 2022 and Beyond” on Dec 2, 2021. (Bangkok Post photo) ... Read more »

Thai GDP growth of 4% still possible next year despite Omicron - FinMin

FILE PHOTO: Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith speaks at the “Bangkok Post International Forum 2021: Unleashing the Future: A Glimpse into 2022 and Beyond” on Dec 2, 2021. (Bangkok Post photo) ... Read more »

Fewer Covid control zones, drinking hours extended

Customers at a restaurant on Khao San Road, Bangkok. The hours when alcohol can be consumed at approved eateries in blue and yellow zones will be extended from 9pm to ... Read more »

South Africa's luxury dog hotels give paws for thought

Dogs can stay in the budget section of the hotel, where they hang out together, or have a private ‘presidential suite’. CAPE TOWN: Three dachshunds lay claim to a big ... Read more »

Prayut: No reshuffle, no dissolution

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday insisted he has no plans to change the cabinet line-up or dissolve the House of Representatives and call an early ... Read more »

Test & Go quarantine-free entry to resume Feb 1

In this file photo taken on Oct 30, 2021, tourists walk along Phra Nang beach in Krabi. Thailand will resume quarantine-free travel scheme from Feb 1, 2022, officials said on ... Read more »

Two militants killed, siege ends in gunfire

A soldier speaks into a microphone, using a loudhailer and calling on the two militants to surrender, outside the siege-house in Sai Buri district of Pattani on Thursday morning. (Capture ... Read more »

Two stellar international musicians return to perform with the RBSO

Under the Royal patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra Foundation is excited to welcome back the wonderful Taiwanese-American concert pianist Weiyin Chen ... Read more »

Sindhorn Kempinski marks 12th anniversary

Sindhorn Kempinski Hotel Bangkok is celebrating the 12th anniversary of its iconic “Lady in Red” programme by getting every Kempinski hotel around the world to commemorate the embodiment of Kempinski ... Read more »

IT predictions for 2022 and beyond From consumers fooling algorithms to NFTs and 'neuromining', Gartner Inc sees trends that will keep businesses on their toes

Three key aspects stand out among the lessons business and IT leaders have learned during the ongoing disruption and uncertainty — the push toward human-centricity, the race to resilience and ... Read more »

First Thai rice shipment delivered using Laos-China railway

A first shipment 1,000 tonnes of Thai rice has been delivered using the Lao-Chinese railway to Chongqing, marking a new chapter in exports to China, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic