The first patients in Ireland to take part in a major global trial investigating potential treatments for Covid-19 will be recruited within days.
The Health Minister, Simon Harris has signed an agreement on behalf of the Government of Ireland to enable Ireland’s participation in the World Health Organization's Covid-19 Solidarity Trial, a trial which he said “offers hope for those patients currently in our hospitals across the country.”
The trial, which is looking at potential treatments for Covid-19, has already recruited over 5,000 patients in over 400 hospitals in 35 countries.
Here in Ireland, patients will be recruited from ten hospitals around the country including from Cork University Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital.
Funding of €2.4 million has been announced to support these hospitals in recruiting patients.
The trial is being hosted in Ireland by University College Cork with Professor Joe Eustace, Professor of Patient-Focused Research at UCC named as the lead investigator for the trial here.
Professor Eustace explained: “The Solidarity-Ireland Trial is sponsored by the Irish Government; hosted by UCC and coordinated by HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland; the six main University based Clinical Research Facilities and Centres and their affiliated hospitals are collaborating on this critical trial in order to establish the safety and effectiveness of potential treatments for Irish patients suffering with Covid-19. The trial may allow us to identify treatments that will reduce the severity of the infection, decrease the need for ITU care and reduce the infection’s mortality rate.”
Speaking to the Echo, Professor Eustace explained how participation in the trial is voluntary but, he said that it is expected that the majority of eligible patients who are offered the trial are likely to take part.
While the number of people with Covid-19 who are in hospitals around the country has significantly decreased, he said the trial has been designed so that there is enough capacity to scale up resources if there is a surge in cases.
Health Minister Simon Harris said: “I am delighted that Ireland is playing its part in the global response to the Covid-19 crisis, in solidarity with our international partners. There are still no proven treatments for Covid-19 and it is really important that any potential treatments are prescribed within the context of clinical trials where patients provide consent and everything is controlled and monitored."
He said that while the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals is much reduced, the trials offers hope for those patients currently in our hospitals across the country.
“In addition, while it is impossible to predict the future shape of the pandemic, we cannot be complacent and this trial is a key element in our national preparedness for the risk of a further outbreak or a second wave. Successful treatments will decrease the impact of Covid-19 on patients and on Irish Society, and the potential need for future lockdowns,” he said.
The trial is expected to run until March 2021.