Manitoba announces $5M for COVID-19 research, including clinical drug trials

By | April 8, 2020

The province introduced a new $5-million research fund Wednesday, some of which will support clinical trials for drugs that may be possible treatments for COVID-19.

More than $3.5 million will be put toward clinical and applied research, including $700,000 for a COVID-19 clinical trial, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said. 

Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, an assistant professor and clinician-scientist at the University of Manitoba leading the trial, told reporters via teleconference that several drugs will be tested, including hydroxychloroquine — which U.S. President Donald Trump has touted as a “game-changer” in treating COVID-19.

The study will test whether or not hydroxychloroquine, mainly used to treat rheumatology issues, can prevent people from contracting the illness, and then if it can be safely used as treatment.

Manitobans who have tested positive for COVID-19, those who have been exposed to a household member who has the illness, or health-care workers at high risk of being exposed to a COVID-19 case are eligible to participate in the trials.

Given that researchers in the middle of the pandemic, trials have been fast-tracked and data should be back within weeks or months, said Zarychanski.

He cautioned, though, it could take upward of a year before a vaccine is developed, citing experts he’s spoken with.

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