The WHO expects resuscitation capacities in the face of Covid to be saturated in European countries in the coming weeks. Another announcement, the Solidarity trials conclude that remdesivir has “little or no” effect on the length of hospitalization.
“Resuscitation capacities will be saturated in the coming weeks,” an epidemiologist from the World Health Organization (WHO) told reporters in Geneva on Friday. She adds, however, that the virus is not spreading as quickly in all countries.
According to Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, many cities are already mentioning the scenario of upcoming saturations. The number of cases in Europe last week was three times higher than in March, even though the number of deaths is lower.
“The co-circulation of the Covid and the flu could cause challenges for the health system,” Tedros also said. However, in the south, almost no influenza cases have been observed thanks to the recommendations of the Covid.
WHO works with a number of countries and its director general recalls that the same components of physical distancing and hygiene can help fight against both pathologies. As the demand for influenza vaccine could exceed supply, experts commissioned by the WHO recently called for immunization primarily for the elderly and health workers.
On the night of Thursday to Friday, the WHO unveiled the provisional results of its Solidarity clinical trials, in which Switzerland is participating. According to another study published at the end of May, the antiviral remdesivir, launched at the beginning against Ebola, slightly reduces the recovery time of hospitalized Covid patients (from 15 to 11 days on average). But for its part, Solidarity notes that “there was no material effect on the intubation or on the duration” before leaving care.
The manufacturer Gilead disputes these results based on the previous study. But these are “solid”, affirmed the scientific chief of the WHO Soumya Swaminathan. These clinical trials also confirm that remdesivir has no benefit in reducing mortality.
They lead to the same indications for hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir / ritonavir and interferon, says the WHO. By June, hydroxychloroquine was withdrawn from clinical trials and lopinavir / ritonavir followed in July. A committee must now decide whether or not to do the same with remdesivir.
Solidarity, led by the organization, is the largest clinical trial of patients on Covid, conducted in more than 30 countries with 13,000 people. She has not tested these drugs for preventive use. WHO is pleased that these clinical trials have shown that a large international framework is possible, even during a pandemic. Every month, thousands of people join the patients tested.
Support for patent exceptions
The organization notes that Solidarity will quickly assess promising new care in hundreds of hospitals. Among them are in particular monoclonal antibodies. Ten days ago, Mr. Tedros said the device was ready to test vaccine candidates. But we must first wait for the results of clinical trials, while 10 of them are in the third phase.
For the moment, only dexamethasone makes it possible to reduce the mortality of Covid for serious patients. US President Donald Trump was given it along with remdesivir and other drugs.
The approval in recent days, after the experimental vaccine, of a first drug against Ebola shows that we must remain optimistic for care against Covid, said the head of the emergency program within the WHO Michael Ryan . Mr. Tedros also greeted the two countries who have proposed to other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to decide on possible exceptions to patents and intellectual property for drugs, tests, future vaccines and technologies related to Covid.
And discussions took place Thursday and Friday in Geneva. But according to a Brazilian columnist based in Geneva, Brazil is opposed. Like other UN actors and NGOs, WHO would like this device.