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Thousands take part in Oxfordshire COVID-19 research


More than 4,000 participants have taken part in nationally-prioritised research studies into COVID-19 in Oxfordshire in 2020, including almost 1,800 at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust.

A total 4,128 participants participated in 22 studies in Oxfordshire's NHS hospitals, GP practices and non-NHS settings such as care homes.

These studies, called Urgent Public Health Studies, are supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and aim to help researchers prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19.

Prof Keith Channon, Director of Research and Development at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

"The extraordinary progress in our understanding of COVID-19 - how it is transmitted, how it affects the body, how it can be treated, and prevented - is a reflection of the scale, scope and speed of the many research studies and trials that have taken place, many of them led from Oxford.

"But a special mention must also go to the patients who have taken part in this research and in so doing, driven forward our understanding of COVID-19, and in turn benefited thousands of other patients who have contracted the virus."

Since the pandemic began, the NIHR has helped recruit more than 600,000 UK participants to research, including 1,789 at OUH, 463 at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, 238 through Oxfordshire's GP practices and 1,638 at the University of Oxford and care homes.

The studies include:

  • 1,500 Oxford volunteers to trials for a University of Oxford vaccine for COVID-19, which was found to be up to 90 percent effective following a global trial of 23,745 people.
  • A further 463 out of 15,203 UK volunteers for a study by vaccine development company Novavax at Oxford's Warneford Hospital.
  • Enrolling hospitalised patients, including 184 in Oxfordshire, into a trial into whether existing or new treatments can help improve survival. The RECOVERY trial this year reported that drugs lopinavir-ritonavir and hydroxychloroquine are not effective treatments but steroid dexamethasone can reduce deaths.
  • 238 volunteers for the PRINCIPLE trial into existing treatments for older patients in the community with moderate symptoms of the disease or a positive test for COVID-19. Those with symptoms can register for PRINIPLE online
  • 93 intensive care patients consented to provide DNA samples for the GenOMICC study, which is analysing whether a person's genetic makeup influences how they react to coronavirus.

Bill Wells, Head of Research and Development at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the Warneford Hospital, said:

"Developing promising vaccines to protect us from COVID-19 is the main hope we have for returning to a more normal life. We are extremely proud to have been able to contribute to this at the trust by supporting the Novavax trial.

"The vaccine team is made up of more than 100 staff including nurses, clinical research facilitators, and medics as well as administrative, pharmacy, finance, data management and research staff.

"It is thanks to their tireless dedication and hard work that we were able to set up the study in just four days and, in less than a month, have exceeded our recruitment target by more than 30 percent."