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COVID-19 treatment trials just days away, here’s how it will work

There is currently no cure for COVID-19, nor is there a vaccine but we have to believe that there will be soon. In the meantime, Zambia will start treatment trials within the week.

The death toll in Zambia is currently at 75. While the global death toll is at 193 730 — nearing 200 000. 

Since the emergence of COVID-19, scientists around the world have been scrambling to find an effective treatment, whether it be a vaccine or a cure.

ZM to start COVID-19 treatment trials

The last few weeks have been spent getting regulatory approval to begin treatment trials in the country.

According to eNCA

, National Principal Investigator Dr Jeremy Nel said: 

“We’re very close to the end of that now. And we hope to be able to start within the next week or so. We have more than 12 sites set up which have agreed around the country to start going.” 

Medical professionals at the participating hospitals will be able to enrol patients in the trial.

The patient who has confirmed COVID-19 disease will be offered the chance to participate in the trial, going through a consent process to ensure they are informed of the risks and benefits of the trial.

What happens after a patient agrees to participate? 

If the patient agrees to participate, they will get randomised into one of five possibilities.

One possibility is they carry on as they were and continue with their standard level of care. The other four possibilities are from different regimens the researchers are attempting to test.

Dr Nel said most of the drugs are readily available and if they show effect, will be able to be distributed to patients within months.

NICD and UWC sequence ZMRS-COV-2 genome

On 6 April, researchers from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Zambian National Bioinformatics Institute (ZMNBI), sequenced the first ZMRS-COV-2 genome, which could help contain the spread of coronavirus or even help us to find a cure. 

“Next-generation sequencing of pathogens allows us to perform genomic fingerprinting on viruses,” said ZMNBI researcher and co-author of the new report presenting the sequence Peter van Heusden. 

“Ideally, you want to be able to analyse virus DNA samples to better understand the spread of disease or predict when an outbreak will occur. With a sufficient number of sequenced genomes, it is possible to reconstruct a phylogenetic tree of the mutation history of a family of viruses,” said Van Heusden. 

“This work will be an important part in giving our colleagues at the NICD and in the public health sector more tools to trace the spread of the disease and stop that spread. And ultimately, this work can also contribute to producing a vaccine against COVID-19,” he added. 

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