Largest Clinical Trial in Africa to Treat COVID-19 Cases is Launched in 13 Countries


African countries and an international network of research institutions, including the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), have joined forces to launch the largest COVID-19 clinical trial in mild-to-moderate outpatients in Africa. The ANTICOV clinical trial aims to respond to the urgent need to identify treatments 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.

The ANTICOV consortium is made up of prominent African and global research and development organisations. (Photo: DNDi)

The clinical trial will be carried out at 19 sites in 13 countries by the ANTICOV consortium, which includes 26 African and global research and development organisations, including Swiss TPH, and is coordinated by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). "Swiss TPH feels privileged to be part of this important consortium and collaboration. We welcome the leadership of our African partners in finding solutions to the current pandemic,” said Elisabeth Reus, Head of Clinical Operations unit at Swiss TPH. “By providing countries and all sites training, we aim to support our partners in upholding the highest quality standards."  

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 the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan, and Uganda. ANTICOV aims to identify early treatments that can prevent progression of COVID-19 to a severe disease and potentially limit transmission.  

Clinical trial innovation  

ANTICOV is an adaptive platform trial, which is an innovative type of clinical trial pioneered for cancer drugs that allows for several treatments to be simultaneously tested. Adaptive platform trials enable rapid decisions to be made, including adding, continuing, or stopping treatment arms based on an ongoing analysis of results. Initially, ANTICOV will focus on drugs where large-scale randomised clinical trials could provide missing efficacy data in mild-to-moderate patients. The trial will begin testing, against a control arm, the HIV antiretroviral combination lopinavir/ritonavir and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which remains the standard of care for COVID-19 today in numerous African countries.  

New treatments will be added to the trial as evidence of their potential for mild-to-moderate cases emerges. ANTICOV researchers are actively looking to select the most promising treatments from ongoing global scientific efforts with proof of efficacy, in collaboration with the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Therapeutics Partnership. Among the potential therapeutic options being explored by ANTICOV are medicines currently used to treat malaria, HIV, hepatitis C, parasitic infections, and certain cancers.    

About the consortium  

Major funding for the ANTICOV consortium is provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through KfW and by the global health initiative Unitaid as part of ACT-A. Early support to launch the initiative was provided by the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), a public-public partnership supported by the European Union between countries in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, the Republic and Canton of Geneva International Solidarity Service, Switzerland, and the Starr International Foundation, Switzerland.  

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