Cork University Hospital (CUH) is poised to take part in an international trial which will test interventions for COVID-19 in critically ill patients.
The trial will begin enrolling patients at the start of this month in Ireland. Other countries taking part include the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
It will be carried out among COVID-19 patients who are in intensive care. These outcomes will then be captured and analysed across an international network as part of global efforts to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in intensive care settings.
Professor Alistair Nichol, St Vincent’s University Hospital and University College Dublin is the Irish lead on the trial. He explained how during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic many groups tried to conduct trials in a timely manner, but they couldn’t establish a clinical trial in time to respond to the pandemic.
“So, we designed a new trial called REMAP CAP to recruit in “peacetime” but to be able to convert rapidly in the event of a pandemic, such as COVID-19," he said.
“This trial will now allow a rapid response which is ready to enroll Irish patients in intensive care units in the first weeks of such a pandemic. This means we can rapidly generate evidence to guide doctor’s decisions on the best treatment for critically ill patients with COVID-19.”
The COVID-19 aspect of the trial will commence in ICUs in St Vincent’s University Hospital and University Hospital Galway in the next week.
Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Limerick are amongst a number of other hospitals said to be preparing to take part shortly.
The Health Research Board says the rapid response is possible because of investment by Board in the Irish Critical Care Clinical Trials Network over the past five years. The HRB is to invest a further €400,000 to convert to a COVID-19 trial.
“Existing HRB support for this clinical trial network means that Irish researchers can react quickly and activate targeted responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, based on scientific consensus on potential treatments,” said Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the HRB.
"The speed at which we have been able to respond is only possible because of the incredible work done to date in this network and the collaborations they have established internationally."