Rigshopitalet to head trials of drug to treat COVID-19

​European efforts to test whether the Remdesivir drug works against COVID-19 are to be managed from Rigshospitalet.


​Patients with COVID-19 at Rigshospitalet and other hospitals can soon expect to be asked whether they would like to participate in an experimental treatment, according to Prof. Jens Lundgren, a consultant at the Department of Infectious Diseases and Rheumatology in an article in the newspaper Politiken. 

As the European coordinator, Jens Lundgren has just been in the US for a meeting with the National Institute of Health to plan how the many participating countries can initiate patient trials of a potential future treatment to combat the current coronavirus. 

The trials involve the drug Remdesivir, which was originally developed to treat other serious viral infections, for example ebola or the two previous coronavirus infections: SARS and MERS. 

Photo: In collaboration with colleagues at Rigshospitalet, Professor Jens Lundgren will be leading and coordinating a randomised European COVID-19 study with Remdesivir.

The drug can prevent virus particles that have penetrated cells in test animals from breeding, and inhibit the spread of the infection,” said Jens Lundgren.

“We hope that the medicine will also work on people infected with the coronavirus currently plaguing the world, because genetically it is very similar to the two other coronaviruses that caused SARS and MERS. Now, we must cross our fingers that it works on the patients in whom the virus has evolved into a serious and life-threatening lung infection,” said Jens Lundgren to Politiken.

Remdesivir is just one of many drugs currently being considered in the struggle to find a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, but it is one for which physicians and researchers have the highest hopes. Globally, many attempts have already been made to treat COVID-19 patients with Remdesivir, but there is still a lack of data on whether the drug can actually help. The manufacturer of Remdesivir, Gilead Sciences, has started producing larger volumes of Remdesivir in anticipation of the scientific data. 

Ready to start

Jens Lundgren has returned from the US with a treatment protocol, and has overall responsibility for managing and coordinating the randomized trials in Europe. The study will be conducted in collaboration with departments of infection medicine in a number of European hospitals that Jens Lundgren and his colleagues at Rigshospitalet work with routinely.   

"We’re actually ready to start trial treatment at any time," said Jens Lundgren to Politiken.

The plan at the Department of Infectious Diseases and Rheumatology is to roll out trials as soon as possible after the regulatory approvals are in place in the participating countries. 

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