Professor Terrence Seemungal


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Caribbean islanders will be asked to participate in a clinical study on four drugs that are hoped to be potential treatments for COVID-19.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) will carry out the studies at their campuses in T&T, Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas once approved.

Announcing the study at yesterday’s Ministry of Health virtual media conference, UWI’s dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences Prof Terrence Seemugal said it will form part of the global search for drugs that are effective against the virus. The study entails administering COVID-19 patients with the medication, Remdesivar, Ritonavir, Interferon Beta and Hydroxychloroquine. Researchers will compare patients’ reaction to the medications to those who under the standard care offered at hospitals.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) came up with a study which they called Solidarity and this is a large international trial that will be looking at options for therapy. It is proposed that the study be done throughout the countries which the University of the West Indies are and that would be Trinidad, the Bahamas, Barbados and Jamaica.

“We have a committee across the four countries that is chaired by one of our colleagues, Prof Marvin Reid of the Mona Campus,” Seemungal said.

UWI submitted proposals to the ethic committees of the Ministry of Health and the UWI. Once approved, the committee will establish a date for the start of the trial. Seemungal said patients will have the option of enrolling in the study and once they do, they will have to sign consent forms. The study would use the randomised process so patients cannot determine which course of drugs they prefer. As to the length of the study, Seemungal said it is based on the course of each prescription.

“ So one will be about 10 days; another one, about seven and another one, about two weeks. It depends on which arm of the study you are in.”