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UK’s top doctors urge recruitment of COVID-19 patients for vital scientific research

Published: 03 April 2020

The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers and NHS England and Improvement’s’ National Medical Director have written a joint letter to every NHS Trust in the country asking that all efforts are made to enrol patients into nationally prioritised clinical trials on COVID-19.

These trials are taking place in primary care, hospital and ICU settings.

In the letter, the country’s five most senior doctors - including NIHR co-lead and Chief Medical Officer for England Prof. Chris Whitty - set out the vital role that the gathering of reliable evidence will play in combatting the global pandemic, and say that the UK is now running clinical trials across the whole disease spectrum.

The trials now need patients recruited as quickly as reasonably possible, as “the faster that patients are recruited, the sooner we will get reliable results,” the letter states.

National prioritisation

Using international evidence and UK expertise the most promising potential treatments, at this stage, have been identified and are featured on the list of nationally prioritised studies which have been given urgent public health research status.

Specifically, the letter highlights three key interventional studies:

PRINCIPLE: a platform trial of interventions against COVID-19 in older people 

RECOVERY: a trial to evaluate if existing or new drugs can help patients hospitalised with confirmed COVID-19  

REMAP-CAP: a platform trial for severely ill patients with COVID-19

Off-licence treatments outside of trial “strongly discouraged”

The letter cautions against clinicians using off-licence treatments outside of a trial. “Use of treatments outside of a trial, where participation was possible, is a wasted opportunity to create information that will benefit others,” the letter states.

All evidence gathered from nationally prioritised trials will be used to inform treatment decisions and benefit patients in the immediate future.

The full letter is available to download from the MHRA Central Alerting System

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