Following the impact of the first wave, non-COVID-19-related research activities at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) that were temporarily put on hold were progressively restarted and came back to full speed by the end of 2020. COVID-19-related research has continued – depending on study advancement and completion – in addition to the usual workload. Thus, the overall volume of clinical research activities remains at a high level.
The CRC Lausanne continues to support interventional and observational studies related to the pandemic. Overall, we have provided various levels of service to support 40 monocentric and multicentric studies. Most interventional trials are now completed; nevertheless, we are still involved in some of them, for example for a first-in-human experimental vaccine.
In addition, the CRC Lausanne continues its coordination for the SOLIDARITY trial consortium in Switzerland. In December 2020, the WHO published the interim results of this international study in the The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (see link to article below). More than 11,000 patients were included in the study at that point in time. The repurposed antiviral drugs tested (remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and interferon) demonstrated little or no effect on hospitalised COVID-19 patients, as indicated by overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay. An amendment to the protocol was submitted to the authorities in autumn 2020 to modify the tested treatments and add an immunomodulator drug (acalabrutinib) as a new intervention arm. However, this amendment could never be implemented since the ineffectiveness of this drug had been demonstrated in other studies in the meantime. Remdesivir allocation continued until the end of 2020 in order to close the debate on its efficacy. The decision to formally discontinue the remdesivir arm was taken in January 2021. The publication of SOLIDARITY’s final results on remdesivir is pending. In parallel, the WHO has evaluated the possibility of testing other immunomodulatory drugs, especially monoclonal antibodies. The new SOLIDARITY PLUS trial protocol will internationally evaluate three new treatments arms: artesunate, infliximab, and imatinib. Swissmedic has already approved the amended protocol, which is restricted to the use of infliximab and imatinib. The CRC is currently in the final organisational phase to resume inclusions in Switzerland.
Link to article on NEJM’s website, published on 2 December 2020:
Repurposed antiviral drugs for COVID-19 – interim WHO SOLIDARITY trial results
Link to WHO's website with frequent international updates on SOLIDARITY:
SOLIDARITY clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments