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1.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-315433

ABSTRACT

Background: Drug repurposing is an attractive strategy to rapidly develop affordable therapy against COVID-19. The antifungal drug itraconazole exerts in vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 comparable to that of hydroxychloroquine. Preclinical and clinical studies are required to investigate if itraconazole is effective for the treatment and/or prevention of COVID-19. Methods: Due to the initial absence of preclinical models the effect of itraconazole was explored in a clinical, proof-of-concept, open-label, single-center study, in which hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were randomly assigned to receive standard of care with or without itraconazole. The primary outcome was the cumulative score of the clinical status until day 15 based on the 7-point ordinal scale of the World Health Organization. Other outcomes included time to sustained clinical improvement, duration of supplemental oxygen and evolution of nasopharyngeal viral load. In parallel, itraconazole was evaluated in a newly established hamster model of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission, as soon as the model was validated. Findings: In the hamster acute infection model, itraconazole did not reduce viral load in lungs, stools or ileum, despite adequate plasma and lung drug concentrations. In the transmission model, itraconazole failed to prevent viral transmission. The clinical trial was prematurely discontinued after evaluation of the preclinical studies and interim analysis that showed no trends for a more favorable outcome with itraconazole: mean cumulative score of the clinical status 49 vs 47, ratio of geometric means 1.01 (95% CI 0.85 to 1.19), median time to clinical improvement 10 vs 9 days, hazard ratio 0.94 (95% CI 0.56 to 1.60) for itraconazole vs standard of care. Interpretation: Despite in vitro activity, itraconazole was not effective in a preclinical COVID-19 hamster model. A proof-of-concept clinical study was ended prematurely because of futility. Trial Registration: (EudraCT 2020-001243-15)Funding: Covid-19-Fund KU Leuven, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), Horizon 2020, Bill and Melinda Gates FoundationDeclaration of Interests: Initial dug screening and discovery of the antiviral effect of itraconazole was done in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson and described in a separate manuscript. Scientists from Johnson & Johnson also performed drug measurements on hamster samples and provided guidance on the dosing regimens for the preclinical studies. The company had no role in the design, execution, analysis, publication or funding of the clinical trial.Author Conflict of Interests: None to declare.Ethics Approval Statement: The institutional Ethical Committee approved all animal experiments (license P065-2020).The study was conducted in accordance with the International Conference on Harmonization Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice and the Declaration of Helsinki. The protocol was approved by the institutional Ethics Committee and by the Belgian Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (EudraCT 2020-001243-15). The trial was part of the DAWn clinical studies.

2.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-323191

ABSTRACT

Background: The peak of the global COVID-19 pandemic has not yet been reached and many countries face the prospect of a second wave of infections before effective vaccinations will be available. After an initial phase of viral replication, some patients develop a second illness phase in which the host thrombotic and inflammatory responses seems to drive complications. Severe COVID-19 disease is linked to high mortality, hyperinflammation, and a remarkably high incidence of thrombotic events. We hypothesize a crucial pathophysiological role for the contact pathway of coagulation and the kallikrein-bradykinin pathway. Therefore, drugs that modulate this excessive thromboinflammatory response should be investigated in severe COVID-19. Methods: In this adaptive, open-label multicenter randomized clinical trial we compare low molecular weight heparins at 50 IU anti-Xa/kg twice daily - or 75 IU anti-Xa twice daily for intensive care (ICU) patients - in combination with aprotinin to standard thromboprophylaxis in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In the case of hyperinflammation, the interleukin-1-receptor antagonist anakinra will be added on top of the drugs in the interventional arm. In a pilot phase, the effect of the intervention on thrombotic markers (D-dimer) will be assessed. In the full trial, the primary outcome is defined as the effect of the interventional drugs on clinical status as defined by the WHO ordinal scale for clinical improvement. Discussion: In this trial we target the thromboinflammatory response at multiple levels. We intensify the dose of low molecular weight heparins to reduce thrombotic complications. Aprotinin is a potent kallikrein pathway inhibitor that reduces fibrinolysis, activation of the contact pathway of coagulation, and local inflammatory response. Additionally, aprotinin has shown in vitro inhibitory effects on SARS-CoV-2 cellular entry. Because the excessive thromboinflammatory response is one of the most adverse prognostic factors in COVID-19, we will add anakinra, a recombinant interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, to the regimen in case of severely increased inflammatory parameters. This way, we hope to modulate the systemic response to SARS-CoV-2 and avoid disease progressions with a potentially fatal outcome. Trial registration This trial is registered in the EU Clinical Trials Register. Registration number: 2020-001739-28. Registered on 2020-04-10.

3.
EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-311808

ABSTRACT

Background: The rapid emergence and the high disease burden of the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 has created a medical need for readily available drugs that can decrease viral replication or blunt the hyperinflammatory state leading to severe COVID-19 disease. Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic, known for its immunomodulatory properties. It has shown antiviral effect specifically against Sars-CoV-2 in vitro, and acts on cytokine signaling pathways that have been implicated in COVID-19. Methods: DAWn-Azithro is a randomized, open-label, phase 2 proof-of-concept, multicenter clinical trial, evaluating the safety and efficacy of azithromycin for treating hospitalized patients with COVID-19. It is part of a series of trials testing promising interventions for COVID-19, running in parallel and grouped under the name DAWn-studies. Patients hospitalized on dedicated COVID-wards are eligible for study-inclusion when they are symptomatic (i.e. clinical or radiological signs) and have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 72 hours through PCR (nasopharyngeal swab or bronchoalveolar lavage), or chest CT scan showing typical features of COVID-19 and without alternate diagnosis. Patients are block-randomized (9 patients) with a 2:1 allocation to receive azithromycin plus standard of care versus standard of care alone. Standard of care is mostly supportive, but may comprise hydroxychloroquine, up to the treating physician’s discretion and depending on local policy and national health regulations. The treatment group receives azithromycin qd 500 mg during the first 5 consecutive days after inclusion. The trial will include 284 patients and recruits from 15 centers across Belgium. Primary outcome is time from admission (day 0) to life discharge or to sustained clinical improvement, defined as an improvement of two points on the WHO 7-category ordinal scale sustained for at least 3 days. Discussion: The trial investigates the urgent and still unmet global need for drugs that may impact on the disease course of COVID-19. It will either provide support or else justify the discouragement of the current widespread, uncontrolled use of azithromycin in patients with COVID-19. The analogous design of other parallel trials of the DAWN-consortium, will amplify the chance of identifying successful treatment strategies and allow comparison of treatment effects within an identical clinical context. Trial registration : EU Clinical trials register, EudraCT Nb 2020-001614-38. Start date 2020-04-22.

4.
EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-309410

ABSTRACT

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed an enormous burden on health care systems around the world. In the past, the administration of convalescent plasma of patients having recovered from SARS and severe influenza to patients actively having the disease, showed promising effects on mortality and appeared safe. Whether or not this also holds true for the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is currently unknown. Methods: DAWn-Plasma is a multicentre nation-wide, randomized, open-label, phase II proof-of-concept clinical trial, evaluating the clinical efficacy and safety of the addition of convalescent plasma to the standard of care in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Belgium. Patients hospitalized with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 are eligible when they are symptomatic (i.e. clinical or radiological signs) and have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 72 hours before study inclusion through a PCR (nasal/nasopharyngeal swab or bronchoalveolar lavage) or a chest-CT scan showing features compatible with COVID-19 in the absence of an alternative diagnosis. Patients are randomized in a 2:1 ratio to either standard of care and convalescent plasma (active treatment group) or standard of care only. The active treatment group receives 2 units of 200 to 250 mL of convalescent plasma within 12 hours after randomization, with a second administration of 2 units 24 to 36 hours after ending the first administration. The trial aims to include 483 patients and will recruit from 25 centres across Belgium. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patients that require mechanical ventilation or have died at day 15. The main secondary endpoints are clinical status on day 15 and day 30 after randomization, as defined by the WHO Progression 10-point ordinal scale, and safety of the administration of convalescent plasma. Discussion: This trial will either provide support or discourage the use of convalescent plasma as early intervention for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infection. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov, Identifier: NCT04429854. Registered 12 June 2020 - Retrospectively registered, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04429854.

5.
Biometrics ; 2021 Oct 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1480098

ABSTRACT

The Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has increased mortality in countries worldwide. To evaluate the impact of the pandemic on mortality, the use of excess mortality rather than reported COVID-19 deaths has been suggested. Excess mortality, however, requires estimation of mortality under nonpandemic conditions. Although many methods exist to forecast mortality, they are either complex to apply, require many sources of information, ignore serial correlation, and/or are influenced by historical excess mortality. We propose a linear mixed model that is easy to apply, requires only historical mortality data, allows for serial correlation, and down-weighs the influence of historical excess mortality. Appropriateness of the linear mixed model is evaluated with fit statistics and forecasting accuracy measures for Belgium and the Netherlands. Unlike the commonly used 5-year weekly average, the linear mixed model is forecasting the year-specific mortality, and as a result improves the estimation of excess mortality for Belgium and the Netherlands.

8.
EBioMedicine ; 66: 103288, 2021 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1141720

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The antifungal drug itraconazole exerts in vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 in Vero and human Caco-2 cells. Preclinical and clinical studies are required to investigate if itraconazole is effective for the treatment and/or prevention of COVID-19. METHODS: Due to the initial absence of preclinical models, the effect of itraconazole was explored in a clinical, proof-of-concept, open-label, single-center study, in which hospitalized COVID-19 patients were randomly assigned to standard of care with or without itraconazole. Primary outcome was the cumulative score of the clinical status until day 15 based on the 7-point ordinal scale of the World Health Organization. In parallel, itraconazole was evaluated in a newly established hamster model of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission, as soon as the model was validated. FINDINGS: In the hamster acute infection model, itraconazole did not reduce viral load in lungs, stools or ileum, despite adequate plasma and lung drug concentrations. In the transmission model, itraconazole failed to prevent viral transmission. The clinical trial was prematurely discontinued after evaluation of the preclinical studies and because an interim analysis showed no signal for a more favorable outcome with itraconazole: mean cumulative score of the clinical status 49 vs 47, ratio of geometric means 1.01 (95% CI 0.85 to 1.19) for itraconazole vs standard of care. INTERPRETATION: Despite in vitro activity, itraconazole was not effective in a preclinical COVID-19 hamster model. This prompted the premature termination of the proof-of-concept clinical study. FUNDING: KU Leuven, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), Horizon 2020, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/drug therapy , Itraconazole/pharmacology , Animals , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , Antiviral Agents/pharmacokinetics , Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/etiology , COVID-19/transmission , Chlorocebus aethiops , Disease Models, Animal , Drug Evaluation, Preclinical , Female , Humans , Itraconazole/administration & dosage , Itraconazole/pharmacokinetics , Itraconazole/therapeutic use , Male , Mesocricetus , Middle Aged , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Proof of Concept Study , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Treatment Outcome , Vero Cells
10.
Trials ; 22(1): 126, 2021 Feb 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1076154

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The rapid emergence and the high disease burden of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have created a medical need for readily available drugs that can decrease viral replication or blunt the hyperinflammatory state leading to severe COVID-19 disease. Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic, known for its immunomodulatory properties. It has shown antiviral effect specifically against SARS-CoV-2 in vitro and acts on cytokine signaling pathways that have been implicated in COVID-19. METHODS: DAWn-AZITHRO is a randomized, open-label, phase 2 proof-of-concept, multicenter clinical trial, evaluating the safety and efficacy of azithromycin for treating hospitalized patients with COVID-19. It is part of a series of trials testing promising interventions for COVID-19, running in parallel and grouped under the name DAWn-studies. Patients hospitalized on dedicated COVID wards are eligible for study inclusion when they are symptomatic (i.e., clinical or radiological signs) and have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 72 h through PCR (nasopharyngeal swab or bronchoalveolar lavage) or chest CT scan showing typical features of COVID-19 and without alternate diagnosis. Patients are block-randomized (9 patients) with a 2:1 allocation to receive azithromycin plus standard of care versus standard of care alone. Standard of care is mostly supportive, but may comprise hydroxychloroquine, up to the treating physician's discretion and depending on local policy and national health regulations. The treatment group receives azithromycin qd 500 mg during the first 5 consecutive days after inclusion. The trial will include 284 patients and recruits from 15 centers across Belgium. The primary outcome is time from admission (day 0) to life discharge or to sustained clinical improvement, defined as an improvement of two points on the WHO 7-category ordinal scale sustained for at least 3 days. DISCUSSION: The trial investigates the urgent and still unmet global need for drugs that may impact the disease course of COVID-19. It will either provide support or else justify the discouragement of the current widespread, uncontrolled use of azithromycin in patients with COVID-19. The analogous design of other parallel trials of the DAWN consortium will amplify the chance of identifying successful treatment strategies and allow comparison of treatment effects within an identical clinical context. TRIAL REGISTRATION: EU Clinical trials register EudraCT Nb 2020-001614-38 . Registered on 22 April 2020.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/adverse effects , Azithromycin/adverse effects , COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Standard of Care , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Antiviral Agents/administration & dosage , Azithromycin/administration & dosage , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Female , Humans , Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use , Length of Stay , Male , Middle Aged , Multicenter Studies as Topic , Polymerase Chain Reaction , Proof of Concept Study , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , Treatment Outcome , Young Adult
12.
Trials ; 21(1): 981, 2020 Nov 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-947944

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed an enormous burden on health care systems around the world. In the past, the administration of convalescent plasma of patients having recovered from SARS and severe influenza to patients actively having the disease showed promising effects on mortality and appeared safe. Whether or not this also holds true for the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus is currently unknown. METHODS: DAWn-Plasma is a multicentre nation-wide, randomized, open-label, phase II proof-of-concept clinical trial, evaluating the clinical efficacy and safety of the addition of convalescent plasma to the standard of care in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Belgium. Patients hospitalized with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 are eligible when they are symptomatic (i.e. clinical or radiological signs) and have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the 72 h before study inclusion through a PCR (nasal/nasopharyngeal swab or bronchoalveolar lavage) or a chest-CT scan showing features compatible with COVID-19 in the absence of an alternative diagnosis. Patients are randomized in a 2:1 ratio to either standard of care and convalescent plasma (active treatment group) or standard of care only. The active treatment group receives 2 units of 200 to 250 mL of convalescent plasma within 12 h after randomization, with a second administration of 2 units 24 to 36 h after ending the first administration. The trial aims to include 483 patients and will recruit from 25 centres across Belgium. The primary endpoint is the proportion of patients that require mechanical ventilation or have died at day 15. The main secondary endpoints are clinical status on day 15 and day 30 after randomization, as defined by the WHO Progression 10-point ordinal scale, and safety of the administration of convalescent plasma. DISCUSSION: This trial will either provide support or discourage the use of convalescent plasma as an early intervention for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 infection. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04429854 . Registered on 12 June 2020 - Retrospectively registered.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/therapy , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/blood , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Combined Modality Therapy/methods , Female , Global Burden of Disease , Hospitalization/trends , Humans , Immunization, Passive/methods , Male , Mortality , Respiration, Artificial/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Safety , Standard of Care/statistics & numerical data , Treatment Outcome
13.
Contemp Clin Trials ; 99: 106189, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-898554

ABSTRACT

Starting from historic reflections, the current SARS-CoV-2 induced COVID-19 pandemic is examined from various perspectives, in terms of what it implies for the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions, the modeling and monitoring of the epidemic, the development of early-warning systems, the study of mortality, prevalence estimation, diagnostic and serological testing, vaccine development, and ultimately clinical trials. Emphasis is placed on how the pandemic had led to unprecedented speed in methodological and clinical development, the pitfalls thereof, but also the opportunities that it engenders for national and international collaboration, and how it has simplified and sped up procedures. We also study the impact of the pandemic on clinical trials in other indications. We note that it has placed biostatistics, epidemiology, virology, infectiology, and vaccinology, and related fields in the spotlight in an unprecedented way, implying great opportunities, but also the need to communicate effectively, often amidst controversy.


Subject(s)
Biomedical Research/organization & administration , Biostatistics/methods , COVID-19/epidemiology , Epidemiologic Methods , Age Factors , Biomedical Research/standards , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19 Testing/methods , COVID-19 Testing/standards , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cause of Death , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Drug Development/organization & administration , Drug Industry/organization & administration , Endpoint Determination/standards , Europe , Health Communication/standards , Humans , Immunity, Herd/physiology , Models, Theoretical , Pandemics , Prevalence , Public Opinion , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic/methods , Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic/standards , SARS-CoV-2 , Seasons , Sex Factors , Time Factors
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