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Oxford researchers launch trial to test new Covid treatments


‘Panoramic’ trial to examine multiple antiviral drugs picked out by government’s UK Antiviral Taskforce

Researchers at the University of Oxford are recruiting UK patients for a clinical trial to test promising antiviral treatments for Covid-19.

The so-called Panoramic trial will test treatments intended for early use by Covid-19 patients in the community, in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

“A lot of the research has focused on finding out if well-known drugs can be repurposed to treat Covid-19,” said the trial’s chief investigator, Chris Butler, a professor of primary care at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

“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.”

Promising treatments

The first treatment to be trialled, selected by the government’s UK Antiviral Taskforce, is molnupiravir, a Covid antiviral pill already licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

“Earlier trials have shown these oral new antivirals to be safe and highly effective in treating Covid-19,” said Nick Lemoine, medical director of the NIHR’s clinical research network.

“However, more data is needed on how well they work in populations that are largely vaccinated—as we have in the UK. The Panoramic trial will rapidly generate the additional evidence needed for the NHS to rollout this exciting new generation of Covid-19 treatments, as quickly and safely as possible.”

Patients participating in the trial will receive either the anti-viral treatment plus the current standard care for Covid-19, or the current standard of care without the new treatment.

Researchers hope to recruit a total of 10,600 volunteers in total for the trial, with around 5,300 set to be recruited to each group.

The trial is open to those aged 50 and over, aged between 18 and 49 years with underlying health conditions that make them clinically more vulnerable, or have been unwell with Covid-19 for less than five days.

All participants must have recorded a positive PCR test in the past seven days.