Research into COVID-19 is helping experts to learn more about the disease and to explore the effectiveness of different treatments, as well as to enable the development of a vaccine.
The principle study has been established to rapidly evaluate the effectiveness of different treatments that could stem the progression of COVID-19 symptoms in older people and help ease the burden on hospitals.
The study, managed nationally by Oxford University’s Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit, is one of 32 that has been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care and is now being supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The study is also jointly funded by NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of £20 million of funding made available to researchers to understand more about the disease, test the effectiveness of treatments and develop a vaccine.
GP practices will be supporting patients to take part in the study, which is currently investigating whether an existing drug, hydroxychloroquine, can prevent the disease from progressing.
The drug has previously been used to treat conditions such as malaria and arthritis, and this study will soon test the effectiveness of other drugs.
Currently, one practice in Lincoln, one in Bourne and two in Stamford will be enabling patients to take part.
The study takes place in the community, with patients receiving the drugs and vital study information at home.
This activity is being coordinated and led by the Clinical Research Network (CRN) East Midlands Primary Care Research team, part of the NIHR.
PRINCIPLE is focusing treatments on those who are most at risk from serious complications from COVID-19, with the aim of finding existing drugs that can help them to get better sooner at home and ease the pressure on hospitals.
The study is open to people aged 65 or over, or 50-64 with an underlying health condition.
Dr Simon Royal, CRN East Midlands Specialty Lead for Primary Care research, said: “We’re delighted that GP practices and patients across the East Midlands are involved in vital research into COVID-19.
“It is only by conducting research that we can properly understand COVID-19, which will enable us to develop treatments and vaccines for it.
“We need as many people as possible to take part in COVID-19 research and we are incredibly grateful to all patients and healthcare professionals for their commitment to research at this extraordinary time.”