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COVID-19 patients in East Midlands among first to take part in urgent research study

COVID-19 patients in East Midlands among first to take part in urgent research study

COVID-19 patients in the East Midlands are amongst the first in the country to take part in a new research study, as part of the national research response to the ongoing pandemic. 

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 (full title: Platform Randomised trial of INterventions against COVID-19 in older peoPLE) is managed nationally by Oxford University’s Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit. It 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 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 in each county across the East Midlands have supported 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.

The study takes place in the community, with patients receiving the drugs and vital study information at home. As COVID-19 patients are being asked to isolate, the Clinical Research Network (CRN) East Midlands Primary Care Research team, part of the NIHR, is working with community partners including fire services and charities to deliver the necessary items to patients.

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.”

More information about the PRINCIPLE study can be found at:

Please visit to learn about other studies that have been given urgent public health status and the single, national prioritisation process that has been established to prevent duplication of effort and to ensure that the resources and capacity of the health and care system to support COVID-19 research are not exceeded.