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Patients in Kent, Surrey and Sussex given opportunity to contribute to COVID-19 research

Patients in Kent, Surrey and Sussex given opportunity to contribute to COVID-19 research

Older patients across Kent, Surrey and Sussex will be given the opportunity to take part in the first clinical trial of potential COVID-19 treatments to take place in people’s homes and GP practices.

The Platform Randomised trial of INterventions against COVID-19 in older peoPLE (PRINCIPLE) trial will enable researchers to rapidly evaluate different treatments that could stem the progression of COVID-19 symptoms in older people and help ease the burden on hospitals.

The trial is recruiting people aged 50 and over with underlying health conditions, or people aged over 65 regardless of underlying health conditions.

People who have had coronavirus symptoms for 15 days or less can now pre-screen for the trial at home via an online questionnaire to see whether they can be included.

Patients will also be invited to volunteer to join the trial by participating GP practices.

PRINCIPLE is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and is being led by an Oxford University team.

PRINCIPLE is trialling a number of low-risk treatments recommended by an expert panel advising the Chief Medical Officer for England. The effectiveness of these treatments will be compared to the current best available care. In the first phase, the trial is evaluating whether a seven-day course of hydroxychloroquine, a well-known drug used for acute malaria and certain types of arthritis, can reduce the severity of symptoms in vulnerable groups and help avoid hospital admission. The antibiotic azithromycin will soon be added to the trial.

PRINCIPLE is the first trial of COVID-19 treatments to take place in primary care, and one of the UK Government’s four national priority platform trials on the disease.

Dr Paul Deffley, National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network Kent, Surrey and Sussex specialty lead for Primary Care and GP at Trinity Medical Centre, Hove said: “We know that the vast majority of people who test positive for COVID-19 don't require hospital treatment, so the biggest burden of the illness is in our community.

“Research being delivered in community settings is essential if we are to understand what are the best treatment options for patients with COVID-19. This is to ensure they have a speedy recovery and are less likely to suffer the complications of what is proving to be a very testing illness for our communities and frail populations. It is critical that people volunteer to participate in the trial.”

Simon de Lusignan, Professor of Primary Care and Clinical Informatics at Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford and a GP at Woodbidge Hill Surgery, Guildford said: “The PRINCIPLE trial provides a fantastic opportunity for general practice to get involved in in-pandemic research. The Royal College of GP's Research and Surveillance Centre has been at the heart of offering patients the opportunity to be involved in this study - recruiting over 75% of those who have finally joined the study so far."