The UK has launched two trials that will test the efficacy of treatments which prevent people from catching COVID-19.
The PROTECT-V trial, run by the University of Cambridge, will test the effectiveness of treatments that have already shown promise for preventing COVID-19 and its transmission in early results. The treatments will be given to the most vulnerable to stop the spread of the virus in care homes and health settings. Around 2,250 people are expected to take part in the clinical trial which will last for 12 months.
The PROTECT-CH trial, run by the University of Nottingham, will also look at treatments for reducing transmission and serious illness from the virus, for care homes, their residents, and staff. The trial will begin in May 2021 and last around two years.
The trials have been backed by £3.2m in government funding
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and co-lead for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), said: “These two important NIHR-funded studies will evaluate prophylactic treatments for COVID-19 in care homes and for those with compromised immune systems.
“The more proven clinical tools we can use to protect these very vulnerable groups the better, so I encourage eligible individuals, care home operators, and residents to take part in these studies.”
Protecting the most vulnerable
The PROTECT-V trial will test treatments which shown promising early results for treating COVID-19 and in preventing the virus and therefore its transmission, among care home residents and those with weakened immune systems, such as transplant patients or those on dialysis.
Any treatment proven to be safe and effective in the trials will be rapidly made more widely available on the NHS.
Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked to find the best treatments the world has to offer for COVID-19. It’s down to this dedication and the renowned expertise of British scientists, supported by taxpayers, that the UK was able to identify and rollout two lifesaving treatments for COVID-19 to NHS patients – dexamethasone and tocilizumab.
“The government is backing two more innovative UK-based clinical trials into effective therapeutics, this time specifically for the most vulnerable groups who need them most. We have been clear from the outset that it will be a combination of safe and effective vaccines, testing and therapeutics that will bring an end to this pandemic, and we will not rest until every individual in the country is protected against this awful disease.”
The PROTECT-CH trial will recruit more than 400 care homes to take part, covering approximately 12,000 elderly residents, with any approved treatments having the potential to be rolled out to the 420,000 care home residents across the UK.
Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation, said: “The UK has shown time and time again its tenacity in identifying safe and effective treatments for COVID-19, and we are working tirelessly to support these innovations so they can help protect people in all corners of the UK. Vulnerable groups have been disproportionately impacted by the virus and these government-funded trials will provide us with invaluable data so we can ensure they get every possible form of defence against the virus.
“I urge as many care homes and eligible people to sign up for these trials as possible, and to play a part in securing future treatments for the most at-risk in our society.”