The trials are part of the new phase of the WHO Solidarity clinical trial, which enters the Solidarity Plus phase to test the efficacy of the drugs artesunate (from the pharmaceutical laboratory IPCA), used to treat severe cases of malaria; imatinib (Novartis), used to treat some types of cancer; and infliximab (Johnson and Johnson), used to treat immune system disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. The drugs were donated by pharmacists to carry out the clinical trial that is taking place in 52 countries, including Portugal.

“Finding more effective and affordable therapies for Covid-19 patients remains a critical need and WHO is proud to lead this global effort,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, quoted in the organization's statement released today. The statement said that around 600 hospitals in the 52 participating countries are involved in the new phase of clinical trials, 16 countries more than in the initial phase, and it is possible to evaluate the effectiveness of several treatments at the same time using a single protocol, recruiting thousands of patients to generate robust estimates of the effectiveness of a drug on mortality.

The protocol also allows for the addition of new drugs throughout the process and the abandonment of those considered ineffective. Trials have already shown, for example, that drugs such as remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and interferon have little or no efficacy in hospitalised patients. The clinical trial will only recruit adult patients, male and female, in hospitals until 1 May, 2022.