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NIHR funds community COVID-19 antiviral trial

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded funding to the University of Oxford - working with several UK universities - to carry out a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, testing novel antiviral COVID-19 treatments for use early on in the illness, by people in the community with COVID-19 who are at higher risk of complications.

The Platform Adaptive trial of NOvel antiviRals for eArly treatMent of COVID-19 In the Community (PANORAMIC) is a national priority trial, and as soon as it is set up for delivery - will be open to eligible participants from across the UK.

PANORAMIC has been designed as a ‘platform clinical trial’, meaning it can rapidly evaluate several antiviral treatments over time that could help people at high risk of COVID-19 recover sooner, prevent the need for hospital admission and so ease the burden on the NHS.

The trial’s Chief Investigator, Professor Chris Butler, Professor of Primary Care in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, said:

“It is early on in the illness, when people are still being cared for in the community, that treatments for COVID-19 could have their greatest benefit. So far, a lot of the research has focussed on finding out if well-known drugs can be repurposed to treat COVID-19. 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.”

Professor Paul Little from the University of Southampton and Co-Chief Investigator, said:

“This trial will be one of the most ambitious ever undertaken in UK primary care, and will provide vital information about treatments to help the most vulnerable people in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

Professor Richard Hobbs CBE, Nuffield Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences and Co-Chief Investigator, said:

“The PANORAMIC trial platform is essential to enabling early and rapid testing of novel antiviral agents, given the limited success to date of trials that have explored repurposing existing drugs against COVID-19.”

As part of the UK-wide study, researchers from the University of Oxford, University of Southampton, Cardiff University, University College London, and University of Liverpool will work together with NHS health and social care organisations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to encourage eligible patients to participate in the trial.

PANORAMIC is led by Oxford University’s Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit, while delivery of the trial will be supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network and devolved administrations.

Professor Nick Lemoine, Medical Director of the NIHR Clinical Research Network said:

“NIHR-supported research has already given the world some of the very first, life-saving COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Antivirals represent the next important step in our effort to combat the virus, and with one of the most advanced health research sectors in the world, the UK is well-placed to take this challenge on.”

PANORAMIC also has two sub studies – the Post Exposure Prophylaxis sub-study will test whether antiviral agents prevent transmission to people living with someone who gets COVID-19; a Virology sub-study aims to find out whether the new treatments reduce viral shedding and if using the new drugs cause the virus to become resistant to treatment.