European clinical trial begins coronavirus testing in France

In its French component, the trial will include at least 800 patients with severe forms of coronavirus. In total, some 3,200 European patients will be included in the study involving Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. [Shutterstock]

France’s national medical institute is testing four experimental treatments to combat the coronavirus, including chloroquine, as part of a wider European effort. EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.

The French National Institute of Medical Research (INSERM) announced on Sunday (22 March) that it has launched a clinical trial to evaluate four experimental coronavirus treatments.

INSERM’s trial – called “Discovery – includes chloroquine, a treatment against malaria that has yielded promising results in a study conducted on a small number of patients in Marseille but is sparking debate within the medical community.

The aim of the trial “is to analyse the efficacy and tolerance of treatment options for patients within a limited time frame”, explained the institute in a statement.

In addition to chloroquine, remesivir, lopinavir in combination with ritonavir, and the latter combination with interferon beta will also be tested.

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800 patients tested in France

France’s trial will include at least 800 patients with severe forms of coronavirus. In total, some 3,200 European patients will be included in the study involving Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain.

Any results will be shared with another international trial called “Solidarity” which will be conducted under the auspices of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The use of chloroquine to treat the virus has gained ground in recent days but French Health Minister Olivier Véran called for caution, pointing out that hopes for treatment had sometimes been dashed.

“If this treatment were to be effective, we would offer it to the French without any delay,” Véran said on French TV, adding that experiments had been conducted on several patients currently being treated in French hospitals.

“Within 15 days, we should have consolidated data,” he added.

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[Edited by Sam Morgan]

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