SNSF finances WHO study in Switzerland on Covid-19 treatment

Swiss hospitals are to participate in a new international clinical drug trial to fight the new coronavirus. SNSF funding will ensure a quick start.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched the trial to test the efficacy and side-effects of potential antiviral drugs in treating Covid-19 (solidarity trial). In all, 15 Swiss hospitals - led by Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) - will participate. They are expected to recruit between 500 and 1000 patients to take part in the study.

In view of the extraordinary situation caused by the coronavirus Sars-Cov-2, the SNSF made a strong effort to ensure that university, cantonal and regional hospitals from all over Switzerland participate in the trial. In addition, it quickly made available 1.6 million Swiss francs. The study will start in the next few days and is expected to run for one year. It will be flexibly adjusted to fit the evolving situation. For example, the study leaders will quickly eliminate any drugs that are clearly ineffective and add promising new agents.

To generate new ideas for dealing with the coronavirus, the SNSF already launched a special call on 6 March 2020. 284 grant applications from various disciplines were submitted by the time the call closed. The SNSF subsequently increased the budget for the call to 10 million francs. Funding decisions are expected to be communicated around mid-May 2020.

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