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Case study: East Cheshire grandfather proud to participate in trial testing COVID-19 treatments

Find out more about the NIHR-supported PRINCIPLE trial.

Platform Randomised trial of Interventions against COVID-19 in Older People (PRINCIPLE).

A grandfather taking part in the first trial to test potential treatments for COVID-19 through GP surgeries has told how he is proud to be part of research into the disease. 

John Trinder was the first patient in Greater Manchester and East Cheshire to participate in the Platform Randomised trial of Interventions against COVID-19 in Older People (PRINCIPLE). 

The research will enable scientists to rapidly evaluate different treatments that could stem the progression of COVID-19 symptoms in older people and help ease the burden on hospitals.

The trial has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the UK government’s rapid research response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Trinder chose to take part after receiving a text message about PRINCIPLE from his GP at Bollington Medical Centre. Due to his underlying health issues, which include heart problems and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), he was sent the text as someone who could potentially be eligible in the event of experiencing COVID-like symptoms. 

The trial has now been expanded, which means patients – regardless of whether or not their registered GP practice is directly involved in the trial – can self-refer onto the trial if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Patients can do this by visiting the website and their GP will be contacted by the trial team to confirm their eligibility. 

A week after receiving the text, Mr Trinder awoke in the night with a fever and a temperature of 38 degrees. 

“I was incredibly cold and shivery,” said the 80-year-old, who lives with his wife, Florence, in Bollington. “My teeth were chattering so much I could hardly speak. This went on for about three hours and it left me feeling absolutely shattered the next day.”

On the advice of the doctor he called at NHS 111, Mr Trinder rested and self-isolated. He called his GP regarding the text and consented to participating in PRINCIPLE once the doctor had checked his suitability from his records. 

Participants either receive standard care, or standard care plus a seven-day course of the trial drug hydroxychloroquine to see if it reduces the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. The drug is already widely used for treating malaria and certain types of arthritis. 

Where swabs are available, participants have a swab taken to test for COVID-19. A kit is delivered to the participant’s home for them to swab manually, and they return it pre-paid to be tested.   

Mr Trinder tested negative for COVID-19 and was allocated at random to receive standard care. This involved self-isolating initially and taking his regular medication for his underlying health conditions. It has also involved keeping a 28-day online diary of his symptoms. 

Speaking on day-21, Mr Trinder said: “Thankfully, I’ve had no symptoms since the night I was unwell and my temperature has stayed normal – I’ve been checking it every day. I’ve also been able to get out for a few walks but I’m not quite at 100 per cent yet.”

Mr Trinder, who before retirement was a director of nursing for psychiatry in Manchester and latterly a residential care home owner, has taken part in research trials before at his local GP and did not hesitate to participate this time. 

He said: “As someone who worked in our health service for over 30-years, I know how important research is and have seen first-hand the differences it makes. So I didn’t mind taking part at all; I responded to the text the day after I had the high temperature. 

“On a personal level, it was nice to know I could get tested for COVID-19, but more importantly, as someone who had symptoms, I thought it was right that I contributed because research is the way we’re going to stop this disease.”

Patient participation in the PRINCIPLE study

Patients who experience a continuous cough and/or a high temperature and have had it for less than 15 days are encouraged to consider taking part in the study. Go to or call the study team on 0800 138 0880. Full eligibility details are available at the above link.

Practices interested in carrying-out COVID-19 research  

General practices based in Greater Manchester or East Cheshire and interested in carrying-out COVID-19 research are asked to contact NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester on