Patients with COVID-19 who end up at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee or Nanaimo Regional General Hospital will now be asked to be part of a global effort to help combat the disease.
“We will approach you about being in this trial but the important thing to remember is that it’s completely voluntary,” said Dr. Daniel Ovakim, a critical care physician in Victoria.
Ovakim and his Vancouver Island team have joined on to the World Health Organization’s “Solidarity” clinical trial.
They will join more than 90 other countries taking part in the unprecedented, fast-tracked attempt to find a treatment.
“It’s definitely unique in terms of the efficiency and demands of it, and we’re excited to be part of it because we’ll be contributing to the world body of literature on this pandemic,” said Dr. Ovakim.
The team will be testing three existing medications: hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, Kaletra, an HIV drug, and Remdesivir, a relatively new anti-viral agent.
On Vancouver Island, there were only five COVID-19 patients in hospital as of Wednesday morning, but that could make finding willing participants tricky.
“We need more patients to do the study if the pandemic does fizzle out before then so be it but I think ultimately we’re ready when we do get more patients so if there’s another wave later on this spring or in the fall we’ll still be ready to enroll those patients whenever they do come up,” said Ovakim.
The local trial is expected to last two years but could be shorter or longer depending on how the pandemic plays out locally.
The hope is that at least one of the treatments is proven to help fight the disease.
There are other trials looking at using blood plasma and other medications, as well as work underway to develop a vaccine.