Africa: Covid-19 Drug Clinical Trials in Africa Kicks Off With Kenya

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) has begun a clinical study to test whether two available drugs in the market can treat Covid-19 patients with mild and moderate symptoms in Africa.

The trial, ANTICOV, being conducted in 19 sites in 13 African countries will begin testing, against a control arm, the HIV anti-retroviral combination lopinavir/ritonavir and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which remains the standard of care for Covid-19 today in numerous African countries.

The trial, which is the largest in Africa, aims to respond to the urgent need to identify medication that can be used to treat mild and moderate cases of Covid-19 early and prevent spikes in hospitalisation that could overwhelm fragile and already overburdened health systems in Africa.

ANTICOV is an open-label, randomised, comparative, ‘adaptive platform trial’ that will test the safety and efficacy of treatments in 2,000 to 3,000 mild-to-moderate Covid-19 patients in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan, and Uganda.

Large-scale mortality

“It is heartening to see so many African countries collaborate to get much-needed answers about our unique Covid-19 patient needs,” said Dr Borna Nyaoke-Anoke, a senior clinical project manager at Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), an international non-profit drug research and development group with extensive partnerships in Africa.

“Africa has for the most part avoided the large-scale mortality seen in other countries, but with lockdowns ending and borders reopening, we need to be prepared. We need research here in Africa that will inform policies and test-and-treat strategies so that, as clinicians, we can give the best options to people with Covid-19.”

African context

Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said there is a need for large clinical trials in Africa for Covid-19 to answer research questions that are specific to an African context.

“African countries have mounted an impressive response so far to Covid-19. Now is the time to prepare for future waves of the disease.

“We welcome the ANTICOV trial led by African doctors because it will help answer one of our most pressing questions: With limited intensive care facilities in Africa, can we treat people for Covid-19 earlier and stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed?”