UWI to begin anti-Covid drug tests in the Caribbean soon

UWI to begin anti-Covid drug tests in the Caribbean soon

While there is no reliably active drug currently available to treat Covid-19, the University of the West Indies (UWI) under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO) will soon begin testing patients on potential anti-Covid drugs.

Professor Terrence Seemungal, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the UWI, said that WHO has developed a study that they have labelled ‘Solidarty’, which will be used to determine therapeutic options to fight Covid-19.

Professor Seemungal said, “It is proposed that the study be done throughout the countries where the University of the West Indies is, and that would be Trinidad, Barbados, Bahamas and Jamaica. We have a committee that is across the four countries that is chaired by one of our colleagues, Professor Marvin Reid of the Mona Campus.

Professor Seemungal said that the organization is currently considering four drugs.

“Apart from its international design, the study is also looking at four therapeutic options:¬†Remdesivir, Ritonovir, Interferon-beta and Hydroxychloroquine vs standard care or usual care, whatever is in the country in which the study is being done.”

He said patients will be given the opportunity to enrol in the study but they can opt out of they need to. If they agree, however, they have to sign a consent form and further information will be given to them.

“The study compares these drugs against the usual care or standard of care. And if someone opts to go to the study they cannot say which line of treatment they must get. It is what we call randomized, and the randomization process is done by the WHO,” said Seemungal.

While he could not confirm the date the study will begin, he said that they must first get approval from the Ministry of Health’s ethics committee.

“The Ministry of Health’s ethics committee handles national studies of this type and then the UWI ethics committee so it has been submitted. We don’t want to put any pressure on them because they must look through the study in detail and be comfortable for it to be carried out here in Trinidad and Tobago. And the same is being done on the Mona Campus, the Bahamas and in Barbados.”

Professor Seemungal said he is hopeful that, following the study, there will be clear evidence as to which of these drugs will help in the treatment of Covid-19