Imperial College London

National drug trial to prevent deaths after COVID-19 patients leave hospital

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Nurse with patient

UK-wide study launching to reduce the number of people who die in the months following a stay in hospital with COVID-19.

A new nationwide clinical trial, called HEAL-COVID, aims to reduce the number of people who die in the months following hospitalisation from COVID-19, and to cut the number of these patients being readmitted to hospital with complications. The trial will test a number of safe, existing drugs on patients across the UK in order to find effective treatments.  

"HEAL-COVID will help us find out what treatments are useful for the longer term complications of COVID pneumonitis including Interstitial Lung Diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis" Professor Gisli Jenkins Study co-investigator

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that 29% of patients who are hospitalised due to COVID-19 are readmitted within six months, and more than 12% die within the same period. HEAL-COVID stands for Helping to Alleviate the Longer-term consequences of COVID-19 and is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Cambridge NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. 

Professor Gisli Jenkins, lung fibrosis lead for the study from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial, comments “A large number of people suffer persistent breathlessness and lung function impairment following discharge from hospital and a substantial proportion of these people have interstitial lung disease - such as pulmonary fibrosis - for which there is no current evidence based treatment. HEAL-COVID will help us find out what treatments are useful for the longer term complications of COVID pneumonitis including Interstitial Lung Diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis".

The trial is being led by Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) and University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Liverpool Clinical Trials Centre (University of Liverpool) and Aparito Limited. 

Study lead Dr Charlotte Summers, from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital, said: "Having survived the trauma of being hospitalised with COVID-19, far too many patients find themselves back in hospital with new or long term complications. Unfortunately, many go on to die in the months after being discharged. This trial is the first of its kind to look at what drugs we could use to reduce the devastating impact on patients”.

HEAL-COVID will enrol patients when they are discharged from hospital, following their first admission for COVID-19.  They will be randomised and given one of two drugs - apixaban and atorvastatin - and their progress tracked. Apixaban is normally used to reduce the risk of blood clots, and atorvastatin is a widely used lipid lowering drug or statin. It is hoped a third drug will be introduced to the trial on the recommendation of the UK COVID Therapeutic Advisory Panel (UK-CTAP) in the coming weeks.

NHS medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said “Long Covid can have a significant impact on someone’s quality of life, which is exactly why in addition to funding research into the condition, the NHS has invested millions into opening dozens of dedicated clinics to help people get back to good health“.

Supporters

Reporter

Ms Helen Johnson

Ms Helen Johnson
National Heart & Lung Institute

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6843
Email: helen.johnson@imperial.ac.uk

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Coronavirus, Comms-strategy-Real-world-benefits
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