A collaborative effort seeks clinical solutions to blunt COVID harm across Africa
Among the main lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic for addressing a health crisis have been the importance of coordinated efforts across borders, of trust in public health measures, and of multipronged approaches to manage evolving threats.
“While getting vaccines to everyone who needs them remains a top priority, the world has never effectively fought an infectious disease with just one set of tools,” writes Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) Regional Executive Director Rachel Cohen in a recent New York Times op-ed.
Her organization, DNDi, is coordinating ANTICOV, a multi-country clinical trial to identify early treatment options for mild to moderate COVID-19, starting by building connections and trust in the communities where the trial is carried out.
As new variants fuel spread of the disease in places where resources like hospital beds and oxygen remain especially limited, a goal of ANTICOV is to stop mild cases in their tracks before they become severe cases that would require those resources.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) supports DNDi in working to find ways to treat and cure less severe cases of COVID-19, in accelerating and facilitating research and scientific exchange in low- and middle-income countries, and in advocating for equitable access globally to COVID-19 health technologies. SNF has partnered with DNDi in the past to support its program seeking to eliminate sleeping sickness, where the nonprofit drug research and development organization showed how bringing together international partners and building capacity for on-the-ground trials could lead to new treatments that drastically improved health outcomes.
In addition to the local ties it fosters in the communities where it is active, ANTICOV also operates on international ties between 26 research institutions based in countries from Burkina Faso to Switzerland and Mali to Spain. These include the nonprofit ALIMA, the Alliance for International Medical Action, whose work strengthening infection control measures in health centers and hospitals across Africa, implementing COVID-19 monitoring and contact tracing, reducing community transmission among vulnerable populations, and aiding vaccination roll-out SNF supported as part of its $100 million global COVID-19 relief initiative.
ALIMA is overseeing the ANTICOV trial in Guinea, one of the 13 countries in Africa in which the study is taking place.
For, DNDi it’s not just about effective new treatments for a deadly virus; it’s about how these treatments are developed. “Decisions made today,” writes Cohen in her op-ed, “will determine whether the fruits of scientific progress will be equitably shared for generations to come.”