GENEVA, 30 APRIL 2020(REUTERS/THE GUARDIAN)— A top World Health Organisation official declined comment on Wednesday on reports that Gilead Science’s remdesivir could help treat COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, but said that further data was needed.
“I wouldn’t like to make any specific comment on that, because I haven’t read those publications in detail,” Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, told an online briefing in response to a question, adding it can sometimes take a number of publications to determine a drug’s efficacy.
“Clearly we have the randomised control trials that are underway both in the UK and US, the ‘Solidarity trials’ with WHO. Remdesivir is one of the drugs under observation in many of those trials. So I think a lot more data will come out,” he said.
Ryan added: “But we are hopeful this drug and others may prove to be helpful in treating COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s chief scientist has urged the public to be wary of claims of breakthroughs and sudden cures for coronavirus and instead to rely on Covid-19 information based on evidence.
Amid a proliferation of reports of cures and treatments relating to the virus, Dr Alan Finkel on Wednesday launched the Rapid Research Information Forum alongside the head of the Australian Academy of Science.
The forum will be chaired by Finkel to ensure Covid-19-related questions from the federal government are answered by experts based on the strongest available evidence.
“I strongly believe that research is the way out of the epidemic; we need to continue to highlight that science is complex, and it’s always developing,” Finkel, a neuroscientist, told Guardian Australia.
“The community needs to be alert to ‘fake news’. Open sharing of data is critical for research and collaboration, but with openness comes the need for the public to understand that the answers are not simple and that understanding is achieved through the weight of evidence from multiple trials.”
New studies and reports about ‘breakthroughs’, treatments and potential ‘cures’ for Covid-19 have become a daily occurrence as scientists tackle the disease, which has killed more than 200,000 people and changed the way we live.
There are positives to this intensive effort. Trials are being fast-tracked and properly funded. A vaccine may be found within a faster timeframe than for other less pressing diseases.
But there are serious concerns being raised by bioethicists, clinicians and scientists that scientific rigour and peer review is falling by the wayside in the race to understand how the virus spreads and why it has such a devastating impact on some people.
Data from trials is being published before it has been scrutinised. Findings in the laboratory at a pre-clinical stage, long before any humans have been tested, are being described as ‘breakthroughs’…..PACNEWS