March 2020 | Márta 2020

Global Clinical Trial for COVID-19

Tue, 31 March 20 17:56

Led by Prof Alistair Nichol, the Health Research Board is mobilising rapid support for a COVID-19 clinical trial among Irish patients in Intensive Care Units as part of global research efforts to tackle the pandemic.

The trial will start enrolling COVID-19 patients on the island of Ireland at the start of April 2020 and will test interventions for COVID-19 in critically ill patients, capture the outcomes and analyse data across an international network in a global effort to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Intensive care settings.  The international network comprises clinical investigators in UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.  Rapid data sharing will ensure findings relevant to the COVID-19 outbreak are shared quickly with others working in the area to inform decision making.

Professor Alistair Nichol, UCD Full Professor of Critical Care Medicine at St Vincent’s University Hospital, who is the Irish lead on the trial, explains how it will work and why it is so important.

‘In the 2009, H1N1 pandemic many groups tried to conduct trials in a timely manner, however, our groups and others couldn’t establish a clinical trial in time to respond to the pandemic. So, we designed a new trial called REMAP CAP to recruit in “peacetime” but to be able to convert rapidly in the event of a pandemic, such as COVID-19. This trial will now allow a rapid response which is ready to enrol Irish patients in intensive care units in the first weeks of such a pandemic. This means we can rapidly generate evidence to guide doctor’s decisions on the best treatment for critically ill patients with COVID-19.’

Researchers in Ireland led by Prof Nichol will work with the local network of Clinical Research Facilities and other partners across academia and hospitals to start assessing these potential interventions as quickly as possible.  The COVID-19 aspect of the trial will commence in ICUs in St Vincent’s University Hospital and University Hospital Galway in the next week. Beaumont Hospital have signed contracts and the following hospitals are preparing to be involved soon: Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Limerick as well as the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, with others to follow.

The additional interventions that have been proposed for Covid-19 trials are prioritised by experts brought together by the World Health Organisation in mid-February, and these Covid-19 trial interventions will be rolled out across the international network.

This rapid response is possible because the Health Research Board (HRB) has invested in the Irish Critical Care Clinical Trials Network based at the UCD Clinical Research Centre over the past five years. The HRB will invest a further €400,000 to convert to a COVID-19 trial.

According to Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the HRB,

‘Existing HRB support for this clinical trial network means that Irish researchers can react quickly and activate targeted responses to the Covid-19 outbreak, based on scientific consensus on potential treatments. The speed at which we have been able to respond is only possible because of the incredible work done to date in this network and the collaborations they have established internationally.’

Adapted from a report by the Health Research Board, 31st March 2020.