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COVID-19 drugs trial for healthcare workers begins in Brighton

COVID-19 drugs trial for healthcare workers begins in Brighton

A study has opened today in Brighton looking at whether a drug commonly used for the treatment of malaria can prevent, reduce or delay symptoms of COVID-19 in frontline healthcare workers.

Staff at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust will be given the opportunity to volunteer for the COPCOV study, as long as they have not been diagnosed with Covid-19, or have an acute respiratory infection.

Laboratory evidence shows that hydroxychloroquine may be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19. However there is no conclusive proof so this study will determine if the drug is effective or not.

The COPCOV study, supported by the National Institute for Health Research, is a global study which will enroll over 40,000 frontline healthcare workers, who have close contact with patients with COVID-19, from across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

UK participants will either receive hydroxychloroquine, or a placebo pill (which does not contain any drugs) at random. Volunteers and the local study team will not know which one they receive. Participants will take the drugs each day for three months. They will be followed closely to see how well the drug is tolerated, whether they contract the virus, and if they do, whether they develop mild or more severe COVID-19. All participants will also take the usual precautions for protection against the virus. If a participant does develop COVID-19, they will be treated according to the treatment guidelines.

COPCOV UK Investigator, and CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex Specialty Lead for Infection Professor Martin Llewelyn said: “Even though the lockdown has brought the rate of infection right down in the UK, healthcare workers will continue to be at risk of COVID-19, especially as measures are relaxed. A widely available, safe and effective vaccine may be a long way off. If drugs as well tolerated as hydroxychloroquine could reduce the chances of catching COVID-19 this would be incredibly valuable.”

The trial is also opening today at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and will be open at a total of 25 sites in the UK by the end of June. The COPCOV UK sites are being managed by the Diabetes Trials Unit, Oxford and being led by the University of Oxford and Wellcome supported Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, Thailand. 

More information about the trial can be found on the MORU website.