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Wed Jul 29, 2020, 12:41 AM

U.S. Failures are holding back search for Coronavirus Drugs

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The Guardian: U.S. Failures are holding back search for coronavirus drugs

The global effort to produce useful anti-Covid medicines is being hampered by the US because researchers are testing drugs in “an arbitrary, willy-nilly way”, the expert leading the UK’s programme has warned.

Britain’s Recovery Trial programme, which has involved 12,000 patients at several hundred British hospitals, has already pinpointed one promising new drug to tackle the disease and also highlighted two others – previously thought to be potential life-savers – as being useless.

But the failure of the US medical system to match this output has meant that other promising treatments that could have been cleared for widespread use have still to be evaluated. In particular, convalescent plasma (blood plasma that is taken from Covid-19 patients and which contains antibodies that could protect others against the disease) has still to be properly tested on a large-scale randomised trial.

“Tens of thousands of people have already been given convalescent plasma in the US but these treatments were not randomised,” said Professor Martin Landray, one of the founders of the Recovery programme. “They just give individuals convalescent plasma in the hope it will work. Vast quantities have been given and they still have no idea whether it helps or harms or has no impact,” added Landray, an expert in the setting up of large-scale drug trials.

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