New Delhi: An hour after announcing that the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Trial for Covid-19 plans to continue testing remdesivir, even though the drug didn’t show encouraging results, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) withdrew its statement Friday.
The earlier announcement about remdesivir was crucial as the interim findings of the multi-country trial revealed that none of the four repurposed drugs that it examined — remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), lopinavir or interferon — had any benefits on Covid patients.
The first ICMR statement said “in order to increase the precision of the findings, the trial plans to continue randomisation of remdesivir”.
It also said that “based on the interim results, the Interferon β1a arm of the trial has now been discontinued”, and added that “immunomodulators” and “monoclonal antibodies” could soon be tested under the trial, globally. Immunomodulators are the drugs to regulate immunity, while monoclonal antibodies are expected to provide short-term protection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
But on its official WhatsApp group with journalists, ICMR’s media team said the statement had been recalled due to “minor correction”. When it was reissued, all three of these announcements had been deleted.
‘ICMR succeeded in conducting trial despite pandemic’
In the fresh statement, the ICMR hailed its own efforts of conducting the Solidarity Trial, despite the ongoing pandemic.
“ICMR has succeeded in conducting this large randomised controlled study even during a pandemic situation and earlier lockdown,” it said.
It further added that “this was a well-coordinated national effort led by ICMR-National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), Pune, with Dr Sheela Godbole, Scientist F, at the helm”.
The ICMR added in the fresh release that it had conducted “PLACID trial for convalescent plasma, indicating no benefit of it in Covid-19 treatment”.
In India, the Solidarity Trial was conducted at 26 sites with 937 participants, as on 15 October.
On 27 March, R.R. Gangakhedkar, who was then chief epidemiologist of ICMR, had announced that India would participate in the multi-country trial to identify potential treatments for Covid.
Solidarity Trial may include cancer drug
The ICMR has requested the government’s panel of experts to approve testing of cancer drug acalabrutinib as part of the trial.
The ICMR-NARI has presented the government’s Subject Expert Committee with a proposal to amend the ongoing protocol by adding a trial arm to test acalabrutinib.
The committee has asked NARI for clarifications and justifications on the proposal to approve the addition of the arm.
Acalabrutinib is a cancer drug developed by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and branded as Calquence.