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British researchers start recruiting for clinical trial to test novel antiviral Covid-19 treatments

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Researchers from the University of Oxford today (December 8) started recruiting for a clinical trial to test novel antiviral Covid-19 treatments for early use in the illness by people in the community and those who are at higher risk of complications.

Partnering with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), colleagues in several UK universities, and the NHS UK-wide, the Platform Adaptive trial of NOvel antiviRals for eArly treatMent of Covid-19 In the Community (PANORAMIC), is a national priority trial, and will be open to participants from across the UK.

The first treatment to be tested by the UK Antiviral Taskforce will be molnupiravir, a Covid antiviral pill already licensed by the MHRA.

Britain became the first country in the world to approve molnupiravir, which was jointly developed by U.S.-based Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, in November.

The trial can rapidly evaluate several antiviral treatments over time that could help recover sooner, prevent the need for hospitalisation and subsequently ease the burden on the NHS.

People aged 50 and over, aged between 18 to 49 years with underlying health conditions, or those unwell with Covid-19 for less than five days, can join the study.

Around 5,300 people will be recruited to each group, and up to 10,600 volunteers will be needed for testing.

All participants should have recorded a positive PCR test within the past seven days.

Professor Mahendra G Patel

The trial’s pharmacy and inclusion and diversity lead, Professor Mahendra Patel, said: “PANORAMIC will be working closely with pharmacists and their teams across settings to help play a crucial role in raising the awareness of the trial UK-wide and in supporting greater recruitment of volunteers from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds.”

It will bring together GP practices, NHS 111, Test and Trace, Care Homes, pharmacies and other NHS and social care service providers to identify potential participants.

The trial’s chief investigator, Professor Chris Butler, said: “It is early on in the illness, when people are still being cared for in the community, that treatments for Covid-19 could have their greatest benefit.

“This new trial will test whether exciting, new antiviral treatments that are more specific to Covid-19 help people in the community recover faster and reduce the need for treatment in hospital.”

Urging eligible people to come forward to participate in the trial, Professor Nick Lemoine, medical director of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (CRN) said, it “hold the potential to greatly improve outcomes for patients most at risk from the disease.”

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