WHO Solidarity Trial: How a Spanish doctor joined the race for a COVID-19 treatment

Dr Vicente Estrada, a Spanish infectious disease doctor, has dedicated his career to studying and fighting HIV. But when Madrid, where he lives and works, became a hotspot for COVID-19, Dr Estrada and his colleagues pivoted their work to help find a treatment for the disease that is taking a devastating toll on many countries around the world.


“This pandemic has changed my job and my activities, and I’m moving to cover it,” he said. “All my time at this moment is devoted to this pandemic.”


Through the leadership of the World Health Organization, Dr Estrada and hundreds of other doctors around the world are now working together to find an effective treatment for COVID-19 through WHO’s Solidarity Clinical Trial.


Over three million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed worldwide, with around 70 000 new cases each day and a rising death toll as the virus wreaks havoc on families, societies and economies. WHO has stepped up to address this critical health crisis in the most ambitious and extensive search for a treatment ever conducted. Through the Solidarity Clinical Trial, WHO is leveraging its ability to drive global collaboration and research to test a range of possible treatment options, ensure that patients get access to safe and effective medicines and, ultimately, save lives.


Mobilizing Action to find a Treatment


With the Solidarity Clinical Trial, WHO has used its international reach and convening power to fast-track and scale up randomized clinical trials around the world to find a treatment for COVID-19 at a rate that aims to be 80% faster than any traditional trial. By enrolling an unprecedented number of patients in a single randomized clinical trial carried out across about 100 countries, WHO is able to test four possible treatment options faster, with the aim of gaining strong evidence for a potential treatment.


Doctors around the world, such as Dr Estrada, have now dedicated themselves full time to the task of identifying a viable treatment through the Solidarity Clinical Trial–even those who are not normally infectious disease doctors. Dr Estrada’s team of doctors working on the trials includes even gynecologists and dermatologists.


Through donations from drug manufacturers, WHO has been able to provide potential treatment options for these clinical trials, alleviating the financial and procurement responsibility of already overburdened hospitals. As Dr Estrada confirmed, “We couldn’t have obtained these drugs outside a clinical trial.”


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