By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - Scientists in New Zealand are set to hold clinical trials aiming to produce anti-coronavirus drugs, local media reported on Friday.
Auckland City Hospital researchers are studying the virus known as COVID-19, and infected patients will be given a choice whether to undergo trials, the daily New Zealand Herald reported.
The U.S. and China are holding clinical trials to produce anti-virus drug to treat patients.
In New Zealand, which has reported 39 infection cases and closed borders to foreigners, COVID-19 cases will be taken up for testing purposes to be supervised by Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society.
Mark Thomas of the University of Auckland's School of Medical Sciences told the daily that the medical examination will look whether medicines used for malaria and HIV could help coronavirus infected patients recover.
He added that the patients, after receiving proper consent, would be randomly allocated to treatment with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria medicine, with an anti-HIV medicine, with a combination of both or with a placebo.
"Neither the patients, nor their family, or the medical team caring for the patients, will know which of the four possible treatments the patients are receiving," Thomas said.
"It is what is called a double-blind study, which allows the effects -- potentially beneficial, or harmful -- to be evaluated without any bias affecting the evaluation of the effect of each treatment on patients' outcomes," he added.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Friday reported 130 new coronavirus cases, taking the country’s toll to 1,030, state-run Bernama news quoted Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, health chief as having said.
Also, 48 cases were linked to a mass religious gathering held at the Sri Petaling mosque recently, it said.
Singapore also reported 40 new cases of COVID-19, taking the total number to 385, according to the country's health officials.
Buddhist-majority Thailand also confirmed 50 new cases, and the country has recorded a total of 322 infections, so far.
COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 163 countries and territories. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Out of more than 246,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 10,000, and over 86,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the rising number of cases, most who become infected suffer only mild symptoms and recover.