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North East and North Cumbria GP practices commended for their work on COVID-19 antiviral study

Multiple GP practices across the North East and North Cumbria have been praised for their contributions to the COVID-19 antiviral trial, PANORAMIC.

PANORAMIC aims to investigate a range of new COVID-19 antiviral treatments that can be taken at home to help people recover more quickly and reduce the risk of serious illness from the virus. In just over six months, more than 25,000 patients enrolled in the study across the country for a chance to access molnupiravir, the first antiviral pill to be made available.

The study is now investigating paxlovid, a treatment that is already being rolled out outside of the PANORAMIC study to those at highest risk who test positive for the COVID-19. The paxlovid arm of the PANORAMIC trial is only available for patients who are registered with the general practices that are taking part in the study.

Hartlepool and Stockton Health Ltd and North West North Tyneside PCN, two local hubs (groups of GP practices) that are running the PANORAMIC study, have been praised for recruiting high numbers of participants to the molnupiravir arm of the study. Both hubs were among the top 15 highest recruiters nationally in March this year, with Hartlepool and Stockton Health Ltd also being the second-highest recruiter in April.

Dr James Lunn, Principal Investigator for the PANORAMIC trial at North Tyneside CCG, said: “It’s a superb achievement being one of the top national hubs for recruiting patients with COVID-19 onto the PANORAMIC trial. I’m honoured to be a small cog in a very well-oiled team of skilled individuals who have been working tirelessly for the benefit of our local population. No one can imagine the work done behind the scenes at such a pace to get this going, both nationally and locally. It comes as no surprise we’ve recruited so many patients and done so well, as our region is blessed with such a committed NHS and allied team.”

Dr Yusuf Soni, Principal Investigator for the PANORAMIC trial at Hartlepool and Stockton Health Ltd, said: "I am extremely proud of everybody who has worked hard to achieve these fantastic results. It is important to give local people the chance to participate in the research to test new antiviral treatments for COVID-19. This research could really make a difference to people's lives."

More recently, GP practices in north Cumbria were among the first sites in the country to recruit participants to the paxlovid arm of the PANORAMIC study, as well as having contributed to the molnupiravir arm. They did particularly well in the early weeks of the new arm opening, accounting for a significant proportion of the overall national recruitment to the new arm of the study.

Dr Stacey Fisher, Principal Investigator for the PANORAMIC study in north Cumbria, said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has taken part in the study so far. Only by carefully trialling new medication for COVID-19 can we work to improve the management of this infection in the future. I am therefore hugely grateful to all those patients across North Cumbria who have made a significant contribution to this research.”

Derwentside Healthcare, another local hub, has made significant contributions to the informatics support to the study, thereby helping to identify patients who meet the eligibility criteria for the study.

Dr Gareth Forbes, Informatics Lead for primary care research in the North East and North Cumbria, says of the Derwentside contribution: “The scale and pace of this trial demonstrates the importance of primary care informatics in effectively identifying patients who may benefit from participating in the study. I am delighted that we have been able to contribute our regional expertise to develop solutions that have been adopted nationally.”

Professor Caroline Wroe, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, said: “Congratulations and well done to all of the local GP practices that are delivering the PANORAMIC trial. It is brilliant to see such fantastic efforts from sites across the North East and North Cumbria. Delivering such a large scale study is not without its challenges and these successes are testament to the incredibly hard work of staff working in primary care who are delivering this trial. Thank you to everybody involved.”