• Test case

    Test case

    Local health authorities have given the go-ahead for South Africa’s participation in trials of medication aimed at treating patients who have COVID-19 symptoms but do not require hospitalisation.

    The country has joined the second- and third-phase trial of the RHB-107 treatment, which is ongoing in the US and is being facilitated by Nasdaq-listed RedHill Biopharma, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Israel.

    The once-daily oral pill is aimed at patients during the early onset of COVID-19. Called RHB-107, it is a novel antiviral serine protease inhibitor, which targets human serine proteases that are involved in preparing spike proteins for viral entry into cells. It is thus expected to be effective against emerging viral variants of COVID-19 that have mutations in the spike protein.

    Terry Plasse, RedHill medical director, says it is important to treat patients early so as to prevent symptoms being exacerbated. ‘South Africa continues to face an onslaught of COVID-19 that is claiming many lives and causing significant distress to the healthcare system. South Africa, along with the US and rest of the world, urgently needs the ability to easily and effectively treat COVID-19 and its variants, both inside and outside the hospital setting.’

    According to RedHill, the two-part trial involves ‘the largest, non-hospitalised, patient population’ and ‘a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study’.

    21 September 2021
    Image: Gallo/Getty Images