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Malaysia Selected By WHO In A Global Mega-Research For Possible Covid-19 Cure

Malaysia Selected By WHO In A Global Mega-Research For Possible Covid-19 Cure

Kirat Kaur

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It’s clear to anyone that the Health Ministry (MOH) has been doing a spectacular job in battling the Covid-19 pandemic, especially with Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director-General at the helm.

But it turns out that we’re not the only ones impressed by our healthcare experts. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has selected Malaysia to be a part of their global mega-research team on remdesivir, a novel antiviral drug that has been identified as a possible treatment for Covid-19.

Transmission electron microscope image of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, isolated from a patient in the United States.
(Credit: NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH)

The global trial, called SOLIDARITY, is to quickly and effectively find the best possible treatment for the novel coronavirus. This effort is described as an unprecedented effort. It’s an all-out, coordinated campaign involving thousands of patients across the world to rapidly collect data during a pandemic.

According to The Edge, Dr Noor Hisham said that Malaysia was selected for two reasons – its ability to conduct research at a high level and the availability of good medical research facilities in the country.

We already have a platform [to do this research] and our researchers are trained to conduct such research. So, among the reasons we were chosen is because we have been identified as a country with a good healthcare research system.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director-General via The Edge.
Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director-General.
(Credit: Malay Mail)

Malay Mail quoted Dr Noor Hisham stating that remdesivir was identified by WHO as a possible treatment for the respiratory illness. The research will be focused at Sungai Buloh Hospital, as well as other hospitals that have been identified as Covid-19 hospitals.

We will gather the patients, give them the medicine and monitor the side effects and also its effectiveness.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, health director-general via Malay Mail.

Originally developed by Gilead Sciences, remdesivir is an investigational broad-spectrum antiviral treatment that has been tested in humans with Ebola virus disease and shown promise in animal models to inhibit the coronaviruses that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

So far, remdesivir has been used sporadically on Covid-19 patients in serious conditions who showed great improvement after being administered the drug.

Remdesivir chemical structure.
(Credit: Wikipedia)

This isn’t Malaysia’s only effort to find a Covid-19 cure though.

Malaysia is also about to begin vaccine development for the novel coronavirus.

The effort is by Institute for Medical Research Malaysia (IMR) in collaboration with Malaysian Vaccines and Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd (MVP) and Universiti Malaya Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre (TIDREC).

Using existing local vaccines for an avian coronavirus called Infectious Bronchitis virus (IBV), New Straits Times reports that they hope to be able to successfully produce a human vaccine as IBV is shown to have high genetic similarity with human coronavirus.

If successful, the country will potentially have a human vaccine to go into clinical trials soon. So, it looks like we’re one step closer to possibly finding a cure for Covid-19!


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