The World Health Organization is testing three additional drugs as part of an enormous global trial to find effective treatments for Covid-19, the agency announced on Wednesday.
The trial, which involves researchers at more than 600 hospitals in 52 countries, will evaluate whether the drugs that have already been approved for other uses — one for malaria, one for cancer and one for autoimmune diseases — can reduce the risk of death in patients who are hospitalized with Covid.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., said Wednesday that he hoped that “one or more of the drugs” would prove effective in treating the virus.
Although there are already some treatments available for people with Covid-19, including steroids and monoclonal antibodies, Dr. Tedros said, “We need more for patients at all ends of the clinical spectrum.”
The first phase of the W.H.O.’s trials for new drugs, which it called Solidarity, yielded disappointing results. Researchers found that four different drugs, including hydroxychloroquine and the antiviral drug remdesivir, had few or no benefits for hospitalized Covid patients.
The three drugs in the new trial, called Solidarity Plus, were selected by an independent panel of experts and are being donated by their manufacturers, Ipca, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson. The drugs are artesunate, an antimalarial drug that may have an anti-inflammatory effect; imatinib, an anticancer drug that might help reverse lung damage; and infliximab, a drug for autoimmune disorders that might help tamp down an overly aggressive immune response to the virus.