UK medical chiefs urge recruitment in COVID-19 trials

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 to encourage efforts to enrol patients into nationally prioritised clinical trials on COVID-19.

In the letter, the country’s five most senior doctors – including NIHR co-lead and chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty – highlight the crucial role of gathering reliable evidence to combatting the global pandemic.

The UK is now running clinical trials across the whole disease spectrum, in primary care, hospital and ICU settings.

The letter stresses that patients need to be recruited as quickly as reasonably possible, as “the faster that patients are recruited, the sooner we will get reliable results”.

The most current most promising potential treatments 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:

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; and

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

Other priority studies, including observational studies, are listed at

The letter also warns against use of 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,” it states.

“Any treatment given for coronavirus other than general supportive care, treatment for conditions, and antibiotics for secondary bacterial complications, should currently be as part of a trial, where that is possible”.


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