Health bosses thank more than 1,000 Milton Keynes people who volunteered for Covid clinical trials

Many of the people studied were unwell with Covid themselves when they volunteered

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 1:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 1:52 pm

Health service leaders have thanked 1,325 participants who took part in nationally-prioritised Covid-19 studies in Milton Keynes.

Without their help, and the help of similar volunteers all over the UK, there would be no medications proven to help and no Covid vaccines.

Today is International Clinical Trials Day, which celebrates the contribution of clinical trials to healthcare, and health bosses have spoken out about the valuable contribution made by the hidden army of volunteers from Mk.

The volunteers' contributions have proved invaluable in the battle against Covid-19

Local Covid studies included the RECOVERY trial, where 350 hospitalised patients were used to help discover whether existing or new treatments can help improve survival.

The trial has reported that steroid dexamethasone and arthritis drug tocilizumab can reduce deaths while convalescent plasma and drugs lopinavir-ritonavir, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin are not effective.

Another study was the Clinical Characterisation Protocol for Severe Emerging Infection. This meant daily blood samples had to be collected from 550 hospitalised patient volunteers to analyse the impact of the virus on the body.

The study helped researchers develop new software to predict the likelihood of deterioration in hospitalised adults.

Another 23 local volunteers took part in the PRINCIPLE trial into existing treatments for patients in the community with moderate symptoms of the disease or a positive test for Covid-19.

This trial found that asthma drug budesonide shortens recovery time in patients at risk of more severe illness and ruled out two further drugs. Those with symptoms can register online at www.principletrial.org.

Meanwhile another 57 intensive care patients consented to provide DNA samples for the GenOMICC study, which led to the discovery of five genes associated with the most severe form of the disease.

Existing drugs which target these genes will now be used in further trials.

Antoanela Colda, research delivery manager at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the world just how vital clinical research is. There is a saying that ‘today’s research is tomorrow's treatment’ and it has been particularly exciting over the last year to see this being observed so dynamically in our Covid-19 research.

“Many people gave us their time to participate in the vital research which was imperative to gain understanding and advancements in the fight against Covid-19. This was at a time when they themselves were unwell, scared and fighting their personal battles with the disease.

“How can we say a sufficient thank-you? Without this information gathered there would be no medications proven to help, less knowledge and therefore no vaccines.

“On behalf of the trust’s research team I want to say thank you so much to the hundreds of patients who have voluntarily taken part in clinical trials and the invaluable contribution this has made to the improved treatment and recovery of other patients suffering with COVID-19 at Milton Keynes University Hospital and across the UK.”

Professor Belinda Lennox, who is clinical director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, said: “This year has demonstrated, more than ever before, the vital importance of clinical research - we have trialed treatments that have saved lives and developed new vaccines that prevent disease.

“This is only possible because of research and because of the volunteers who have given their time and altruistically taken part, not knowing whether they would benefit or not.

“Thank you to each and every person who has taken part in clinical research this year. You have done something amazing.”

The NIHR is supporting 97 nationally-prioritised COVID-19 studies in the UK that have so far involved more than one million participants. You can find out more about the trials here .

Its survey of 1,231 NHS research participants in local areas found 95% of them would volunteer for another study .

People can learn more about local Covid-19 research in an online event tonight. To be held between 7pm and 8pm, it features discussions with a researcher, patient and research nurse.

You can register at tinyurl.com/tvcovid-20may .