Roche, Gilead to test drug cocktail against severe COVID-19 May 29, 2020 0 1558 12345 AFPZurichSwiss pharmaceutical giant Roche said on Thursday that it is planning to test whether a mix of its arthritis drug tocilizumab and Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir could treat severe cases of COVID-19 effectively.Roche said in a statement that it had joined forces with Gilead for a global phase III clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of using tocilizumab -- sold under the brand names Actemra and RoAcemtra -- combined with remdesivir in hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.The clinical trial is due to begin in early June with approximately 450 patients participating in the United States, Canada and Europe, Roche said, adding that the randomised study would evaluate the drugs’ efficiency compared to a placebo.Remdesivir has shown promise in a completed study and a separate trial is under way on tocilizumab’s potential against the disease, but Roche said there were indications that mixing the two could be more effective.“We believe that combining an antiviral with an immune modulator could potentially be an effective approach to treating patients with severe disease,” Levi Garraway, Roche’s Chief Medical Officer and head of global product development, said in a statement.“We’re pleased to partner with Gilead to determine whether combining these medicines could potentially help more patients during this pandemic,” he said.A large US study published last week showed that remdesivir, initially developed against Ebola, helped severely ill COVID-19 patients who required supplemental oxygen, and accelerated their recovery.The United States and Japan have already authorised emergency use of the drug, and Europe is considering following suit.An ongoing French study has meanwhile indicated that tocilizumab, commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, might help prevent extreme inflammation in people gravely ill with the novel coronavirus.Researchers believe the drug could help stave off a state of heightened immune response known as cytokine storms -- where the reaction to a foreign body such as a disease or chemical creates acute inflammation.Roche said the final results of that trial were expected in the coming months. RELATED ARTICLES Riots hit Minneapolis as probe into man’s death made ‘top priority’ May 29, 2020 0 3417 US coronavirus deaths surpass 100,000 as countries reimpose social distancing measures May 29, 2020 0 1459 China violating international obligations over HK: UK, US, Canada May 29, 2020 0 223 China approves plan to impose Hong Kong security law AFP Beijing China’s parliament approved plans Thursday to impose a security law on Hong Kong that has ratcheted up tensions with the US and sparked new protests over fears the city is losing its special freedoms. The vote .. S Korea sees largest spike in virus cases in nearly two months SEOUL: South Korea reported its biggest spike in coronavirus cases in nearly two months on Thursday, as officials scramble to tackle fresh clusters that have raised concerns of a possible second wave of infections. The .. 50 world leaders call for post-pandemic cooperation AFP GENEVA World leaders on Thursday called for resilience and cooperation after the pandemic recedes, during a UN videoconference in which the United States, China and Russia did not participate. About 50 leaders took .. Russia reports over 4,000 virus deaths as medics warn of bursting hospitals AFP Moscow Russia’s coronavirus death toll passed 4,000 on Thursday as medics in the second city Saint Petersburg said hospitals were operating at the peak of their capacity. Health officials reported that 4,142 people .. Croatia allows entry without proof of reason for 10 EU countries BUDAPEST: Croatia is allowing citizens from 10 EU countries to enter without proof of reason, the government in Zagreb decided on Thursday, lifting another measure implemented to curb the spread of the coronavirus. ..