Launch of a European clinical trial against Covid-19

Published on 03-23-2020
A clinical trial, called Discovery and coordinated by Inserm, starts in France to test five experimental treatments against Covid-19. It is led by Pr Florence Ader, infectiologist in the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Department of the Croix-Rousse Hospital of Lyon University Hospital and researcher at the CIRI International Research Centre in Infectiology.

“We analysed data from the scientific literature on SARS and MERS coronaviruses and the first publications on SARS-COV2 from China in order to come up with a list of antiviral molecules to be tested: remdesivir, lopinavir and ritonavir in combination, the latter being administered with or without interferon beta and hydroxychloroquine. The list of these potential drugs is also based on the subset of experimental treatments classified as top priorities by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The great strength of this trial is its “adaptive” nature. This means that ineffective experimental treatments can very quickly be dropped and replaced by other molecules that emerge from research efforts. We will therefore be able to make changes in real time, in line with the most recent scientific data, in order to find the best treatment for our patients,” explains Pr Florence Ader, , infectiologist in the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Department of the Croix-Rousse Hospital of Lyon University Hospital and researcher at the CIRI International Research Centre in Infectiology. (Inserm/CNRS/ Claude Bernard University Lyon 1).

It is planned to include 3200 European patients from Belgium, France, Germany Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In France, at least 800 hospitalized COVID-19 patients will be recruited in conventional medicine departments or in intensive care. “Five French hospitals will initially participate (Paris – Hôpital Bichat-AP-HP, Lille, Nantes, Strasbourg, Lyon) and then we will open other centres to reach at least 20 participating establishments. Our strategy of opening centres will follow the epidemiological situation of the epidemic with a priority for opening new sites in hospitals under high pressure”.

The DISCOVERY trial includes five treatment modalities:

  • standard of care
  • standard of care plus remdesivir
  • standard of care plus lopinavir and ritonavir,
  • standard of care plus lopinavir, ritonavir and interferon beta
  • standard of care plus hydroxy-chloroquine