UK to trial 5 new drugs in coronavirus fight

A researcher works on a vaccine for Covid-19 at Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM), London. (AFP)
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Updated 01 June 2020

UK to trial 5 new drugs in coronavirus fight

  • Drugs may reduce the need for intensive care treatment and the use of ventilators
  • The scientists are seeking hundreds of volunteers to take part in the trials for the new drugs

LONDON: British scientists are set to trial five new drugs in 30 hospitals across the country in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The scientists are seeking hundreds of volunteers to take part in the trials for the new drugs, which they hope will reduce the need for intensive care treatment and the use of ventilators.

The new drugs include Heparin, which is used for blood thinning, and new medicines in clinical trials for conditions including muscular, lung and blood disorders, which have been shown to hold other antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects.

The tests will include the new medicine Medi3506, an anti-inflammatory injection developed for skin disorders and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It has also been used in trials for asthma by its producer AstraZeneca.

The studies are part of the Accord (accelerating COVID-19 research and development) program, which includes large swathes of Britain’s scientific research and development community, including workers from the National Health Service (NHS), the National Institute for Health Research (NHIR) and the UK Research and Innovation body.

“We are looking for a signal of both safety and efficacy, something that could reduce the severity of the disease, shorten its duration and prevent patients going into the intensive care environment,” said Tom Wilkinson, a respiratory medicine professor and consultant and the Accord academic lead, from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.

He added that the program is still searching for patients to join the trial, with few people currently signed up.

“These are small, rapidly deliverable studies if we get patients in, so we’re looking only to achieve around 60 patients for each arm of the trial to receive one of the drugs compared to usual standard of care,” he said.

The hospitals taking part in the trial include St. Thomas’ in London, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was treated.

Other major hospitals in Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Leicester and Glasgow are also involved.

Coastal hospitals such as Southend are also participating amid concerns of new spikes emerging following crowded gatherings on beaches in recent weeks.


France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.