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WHO raises hope on COVID-19 vaccines

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HOPE is brightening up for the development of vaccines and drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation has said.

  This was barely one month after Tedros Adhanom, a Medical Doctor and Director General of the WHO, a health agency of the United Nations, launched the ‘Solidarity’, which is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for the coronavirus pandemic.

  Pharmaceutical companies in  the North American country of the United States and China, the world two Industrial giants  were said to have championed the move to produce the drugs with the collaboration of the WHO. The UN health agency may have given the COVID-19 patients across the world of hope of cure when it settled for the US drug, Hydrochloroquine, currently being  produced in NewYork State and others.

  The road to endorsing of the US Pharmaceutical Company produced drug was said to have started when the executive group of the ‘Solidarity’ trial met on Saturday, May 23, 2020. At the meeting where all the various options presented to the group were weighed, it was said to have decided to implement a temporary  pause of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the clinical trial, because of the concern raised about the safety of the drug.

National Light learnt that the decision of the executive group of the WHO Solidarity trial to endorse the Hydroxychloroquine  drug was sent to the data and monitoring committee which was said to have reviewed and endorsed it also.

  As a prelude to the WHO Executive Group endorsement  of the drug, the US, National Institute of Health  (NIH), had launched the much anticipated Phase II clinical trial to evaluate ”whether the Malaria drug, Hydroxychloroquine, in combination with the antibiotic Azithromycin can prevent hospitalisation and death from the dreaded COVID-19.

  Although, the WHO had endorsed  the US Hydroxychloroquine drug, the Chinese anecdotal reports and studies from some other countries ,  suggests  that the drug alone  or in combination with Azithromycin could only help to reduce COVID-19 respiratory infections and lessening the disease severity.

  There are  indications that patients receiving both drugs  together are likely to experience cardiac arrest than those who may receive one  or neither of the therapies. This may have informed why the the US Drug and Food Administration (FDA), had cautioned that Hydroxychloroquine drug for treatment of the  COVID-19 should  be limited for now   to the clinical trials  or treating certain hospitalised patients under emergency use authorisation for physicians to closely monitor the adverse effects.

  Medical experts had described the US NIH hydroxychloroquine clinical trial, which had been endorsed by the WHO, as the largest and highest profile at present. The pronouncement by the WHO, the UN , health agency that hydroxychloroquine has been endorsed among all the drugs presented for the clinical trials for the treatment of COVID 19, may have informed why Boss Mustapha, Chairman , Presidential Task Force , PTF, on COVID -19 and Secretary of the Federation, on Monday, June 2, 2020, broke the cheering news to Nigerians.

  Given that the WHO Safety and Monitoring Committee of the clinical trial are still evaluating the adverse effects of the drug may have informed why Mustapha, the PTF, Chairman, had warned people” to desist from rushing to buy the drug for self medication”. He has every reason to worry because of the fear that the pandemic might force infected people to rush to buy the US manufactured drug.

  In spite of the fact that no drug has been finally approved for the treatment of the dreaded disease, the WHO, which had continued to give  country by country daily report of the disease, had confirmed that 3,263,970, persons  had recovered from it, leaving 3,062,688, still in various Isolation centres in the 213 countries and two conveyances that had produced the  infected COVID-19 patients. The agency had  reported that 393,537 patients had so far died of the disease which could have been minimised if  an effective drug for treatment had been found between December 31, 2019, when the strange disease was reported to the WHO by the Chinese government and now.

  Note that scientists and researchers are not sitting idle as they race to find the drug or vaccine for the treatment of the disease which has infected millions of people across the world between December  31, 2019 and now.

  One of the drugs that was said to have been tested on the orders of the US, Food and Drug Administration, after a government -run clinical trial was the antiviral drug, remdesivir. The drug was said to have been administered on a patient  who recovered from  the COVID 19, after 11 days.

Medical experts had expected the US health  agency to formally approve the drug for COVID-19 patients treatment, but the agency appears to be dragging . An infectious Disease and Specialist, who spoke to journalists disclosed that even if FAD, finally approve the drug for treatment of the COVID -19, the scientists and researchers who were instrumental for the development of the drug will need an arsenal of medications to fight these respiratory virus, which they believe could also attack the cardiovascular, nervous, digestive and other major systems of the body.

  The US FDA, had given an insight that the vaccines and drugs for the treatment of the six- month old disease in the world had been developed and were at various stages of clinical trial. Among them are the mRNA vaccine which had been linked to a US Biotech  Company, while the other vaccines modified adenovirus had been linked to Johnson and Johnson, INO-4800, Inovio Pharmaceutical, ChAdOx1nCoV-19, Oxford University, and BNT162 vaccine to the Pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. Novavax Pharmaceutical Company was said to have been associated with the development of NVX-CoV2373 vaccine.

  The drugs currently under development for the treatment of the pandemic, according reports released by the US FAD, include remdesivir, produced  at a Gilead Science Facility in La Verne, California, NewYork State and others  produced Hydroxychloroquine, Regeneron and Sanofi Kevzara drug,  Eli Lilly Baricitinib drug, Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca and Regeneron antibody treatments drug. This is in addition to the Chinese Pharmaceutical company, Zhejiang Hisum, Favipiravir . 

The Australian scientists and researchers were also  said to be making efforts to join the United States and China, in testing the endorsed  drugs for the treatment of the COVID 19. The country was said to have started  the Australasian COVID-19 trial, popular, ASCOT.

 Steven Tong, an Associate Professor, infectious Disease clinician at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, RMH, Australian and Co-lead of clinical research,  Doherty Institute had revealed that ASCOT is one way of Australian researchers attempting to see ”if the already established treatments might be effective against COVID 19 which as a new disease has ”no current treatments”.

  He noted that the aim of ASCOT is ”to test whether using lopnavir/ritonavir and Hydroxychloroquine, considered by the WHO, will prevent coronavirus patients deteriorating to the point of needing ventilator in the Intensive Healthcare Unit.. The Associate Professor, at the RMH, who is involved in recruiting 2,500 patients in over 70 hospitals across the country  and 12 Hospitals in New Zealand, stressed that why the WHO endorsed drugs appears promising, more research are needed to be sure that they are ”safe and effective in  humans”.

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