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‘Make Leicester Lockdown a Catalyst for Research Participation’ urges leading doctor

‘Make Leicester Lockdown a Catalyst for Research Participation’ urges leading doctor

The Chair of Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group has urged people with COVID-19 symptoms across Leicester to use the new local lockdown as motivation to be part of the national research response to the virus.

Professor Azhar Farooqi OBE, who is also Clinical Research Lead for Primary Care and Public Health for National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network East Midlands, was speaking after an increase in cases in the city saw Leicester become the first to be placed under new localised restrictions, introduced earlier this week.

Whilst many of the research studies into the virus take place in hospitals, Professor Farooqi has urged eligible participants to sign up to take part in the Principle trial which enables them to  take part in research from the comfort of their own homes.

The Principle trial is testing the effectiveness of a number of different drugs to see whether they can reduce the need for COVID-19 patients to be hospitalised.

One of the drugs currently being tested is the antibiotic Azithromycin, which is widely used for the treatment of pneumonia, skin infections, and ear, nose and throat infections. The trial model enables researchers to quickly monitor the effectiveness of a range of drugs, with the opportunity to test new approaches as our understanding of the virus develops.

To take part in the trial, patients register online where they can access information about what the research entails and check their eligibility. The trial team then arranges for drugs and other essential equipment to be delivered to participants, working in collaboration with the CRN East Midlands Primary Care research team.

Professor Farooqi said: “We need people to take part in COVID-19 research studies to help us understand more about how the virus works, and to test treatments and find a vaccine for this disease.

“The Principle trial offers eligible patients a way to be part of research without leaving their house. Drugs, testing kits and information are all delivered directly to the door, which means that people with COVID-19 symptoms can play a vital role in tackling the virus even as Leicester resumes lockdown restrictions.

“It’s vital that people from all backgrounds take part in this urgent research. With the eyes of the nation on Leicester to see how we respond to this unprecedented situation, I would urge people across Leicester and beyond to be part of research so that together we can beat COVID-19.”

The Principle trial is open to people aged 65 or over with COVID-19 symptoms or a recent positive test, and people aged 50-64 with symptoms in addition to one of a number of underlying health conditions.

It is one of 48 urgent public health studies being supported by the NIHR in response to the disease. NIHR funded research such as the Recovery trial has already led to the discovery that Dexamethasone can save lives, and it is hoped that additional research including the Principle trial will unlock further treatment options.

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