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COVID-19 drugs trial begins for hospital staff

COVID-19 drugs trial begins for hospital staff

A study has begun in Oxfordshire into whether a commonly used drug can prevent, reduce or delay symptoms of COVID-19 infection in healthcare staff.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust staff who provide direct care to patients with proven or suspected COVID-19 can apply to take part. For more information visit the study website.

The University of Oxford’s COPCOV study, supported by the National Institute for Health Research, is looking into whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent, reduce or delay symptoms. 

The drug has been used for over 50 years to prevent and treat malaria, and to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatological conditions.

Volunteers go through a screening process at the John Radcliffe Hospital, including providing a blood sample. Those who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 or have an acute respiratory infection will not be eligible. 

Participants will randomly receive hydroxychloroquine or a placebo dummy pill, to compare the two. They will not know which one they receive.

They take the pill once a day for three months and report how they are feeling twice a day via a smartphone app, including giving their temperature with a thermometer provided by the study team.

The global study aims to recruit 40,000 people with hydroxychloroquine in the UK and a similar drug, chloroquine, in some other countries.

University of Oxford Co-Principal Investigator Professor Sir Nicholas White, also a consultant physician at the hospital, said: “COVID-19 is a major risk for frontline healthcare workers around the world.

“We really do not know if chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are beneficial or harmful against COVID-19. The best way to find out if they are effective in preventing COVID-19 is in a randomised clinical trial. That’s what COPCOV is – and why we’re doing this study.”.

The study is funded by a grant by the COVID-19 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and MasterCard Therapeutics Accelerator. 

Accord Healthcare, a UK-based medicines manufacturer, has donated over two million tablets of hydroxychloroquine and matched placebo to the trial.