Northamptonshire Covid-19 patients join £20m trial using drug President Trump hailed as a "game-changer"

Oxford scientists take sufferers from six county practices in bid to solve of how to treat coronavirus

By Kevin Nicholls
Thursday, 7th May 2020, 2:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th May 2020, 2:28 pm

Covid-19 patients in Northamptonshire are taking part in £20million trials of a drug touted by President Trump as a 'game-changer' in the battle beat the deadly bug.

President Trump ditched promoting hydroxychloroquine — a long-established remedy used to treat anti-immune conditions such as malaria and arthritis — after trials of the drug failed to make any breakthroughs.

Yet Oxford University scientists believe the help of patients from six GP practices in Northampton, Wellingborough, Corby, Rothwell and Desborough can find a treatment to keep coronavirus sufferers out of hospital.

Northamptonshire's patients will be those who are most at risk from serious complications from Covid-19 — over-50s with underlying health conditions — with the aim of finding a drug that can help them get better sooner at home without the need for hospital admissions.

Dr Simon Royal, CRN East Midlands specialty lead for primary care research, said: “It is only by conducting research that we can properly understand Covid-19, which will enable us to develop treatments and vaccines for it.

“We need as many people as possible to take part in Covid-19 research and we are incredibly grateful to all patients and healthcare professionals for their commitment to research at this extraordinary time.

"Many of the American tests seem to have been focused on small samples among those patients who were already in hospital.

Scientists will use Covid-19 patients in Northamptonshire to trial treatments for the virus. Photo: Getty Images

"The feeling in the UK medical community is that this something worth pursuing with a longer, more randomnised study into how effective it could be in allowing patients to be treated at home, taking the pressure off our hospitals.

"Hydroxychloroquine has been around for a long time and used to treat different illnesses. There have been lots of studies into its effectiveness for Covid-19 patients but maybe some smaller and less robust studies have not given us information that has been useful.”

Danes Camp and Rillwood medical centres in Northampton; Lakeside Healthcare in Corby; Albany House Medical Centre in Wellingborough; Rothwell & Desborough Healthcare Group and Moulton Surgery, Northampton are all supporting patients taking part in the study.

Reports in the US revealed online demand for hydroxychloroquine and its chemical cousin chloroquine spiked by more than 1,000 per cent after President Trump labelled it a "game-changer" in the desperate search for treatments for Covid-19 without providing evidence it worked.

Patients from surgeries in Wellingborough, Corby and Northampton are joining the trials

Interest stayed high even after an American couple poisoned themselves by taking a liquid containing chloroquine meant to treat parasites in fish tanks.