Cambridge leads HEAL-COVID trial to cut deaths and complications after coronavirus hospital stay
A Cambridge-led nationwide study aims to reduce the number of people who die in the months after a stay in hospital with Covid-19.
The HEAL-COVID clinical trial also aims to cut the number of coronavirus patients readmitted due to complications.
Data shows 29.3 per cent of patients hospitalised by Covid-19 are readmitted within six months and 12.3 per cent die on the period.
Safe, existing drugs will be tested on patients across the UK to find effective treatments.
Study lead Dr Charlotte Summers, from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital, said: "Having survived the trauma of being hospitalised with Covid-19, far too many patients find themselves back in hospital with new or long term complications.
"Unfortunately, many go on to die in the months after being discharged. This trial is the first of its kind to look at what drugs we could use to reduce the devastating impact on patients.'
HEAL-COVID stands for Helping to Alleviate the Longer-term consequences of Covid-19.
Patients will be enrolled when they are discharged from hospital after their first admission for Covid-19.
They will be randomised and given one of two drugs – apixaban and atorvastatin - and their progress will be followed.
Apixaban is an oral anticoagulant drug used to reduce the risk of blood clots forming, while atorvastatin is a widely used statin - or lipid lowering drug - that also acts on other mechanisms thought to be important in Covid-19.
A third drug could be added on the recommendation of the UK COVID Therapeutic Advisory Panel (UK-CTAP) in the coming weeks.
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) and University of Cambridge will lead the trial in collaboration with the Liverpool Clinical Trials Centre, at the University of Liverpool, while Aparito Limited will provide app-based technology that prompts patients to record their progress.
Prof Carrol Gamble, director of the Liverpool Clinical Trials Centre, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to help people in the post-acute phase of Covid-19. The trial is designed to allow us to remove or add-in treatment options in response to patient outcomes. Every effort has been made to design the trial to minimise burden on NHS staff and patients and represents a true team approach to science.”
NHS medical director Prof Stephen Powis added: “The NHS led the world in research identifying dexamethasone as the first treatment in the world for Covid-19 and this latest trial could help discover new treatments for the after-effects of Covid, helping to rapidly get world-leading therapies to our patients.
“Long Covid can have a significant impact on someone’s quality of life, which is exactly why in addition to funding research into the condition, the NHS has invested millions into opening dozens of dedicated clinics to help people get back to good health.”
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