Johannesburg - Officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have said some medications are showing promise for the treatment of the coronavirus, but more research is needed.
“There is some preliminary data from non-randomised studies, observational studies, that indicate some drugs and some drug cocktails may have an impact,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said during a press briefing held at the agency’s headquarters on Monday.
The coronavirus currently causing mayhem worldwide is a new strain, with limited available knowledge on effective treatment.
However, since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, last year, researchers have been experimenting with drugs deemed potentially effective.
“Some of those drugs may impact the length of disease, some may impact the severity of disease, and the dosages of those drugs when they’re given to what patient at what stage of the disease has not been standardised,” Ryan said.
“We have never had a comparison group where we’ve had a randomised approach to treatment with the drug or non treatment with the drug,” he said.
The organisation said world health officials are testing four of the most promising drugs to fight Covid-19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are anti-malarial medications.
The head of WHO’s emerging disease and zoonosis unit, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that ongoing trials of chloroquine and other drugs were small in size, making it difficult to draw conclusions.
“That is why it is very important that we have these larger trials ... to be able to have enough cases to get an answer as to which drugs work,” she said.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organisation understood that many countries had implemented measures that restricted the movement of people in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading, and that governments must make sure citizen's needs were taken care of.
"Governments need to ensure the welfare of people who have lost their income and are in desperate need of food, sanitation and other essential services…. In addition, WHO is working intensively with several partners to massively increase access to life-saving products, including diagnostics, personal protective equipment, medical oxygen, ventilators and more,” Tedros said.