Coronavirus Patients Needed For 'World Leading' Clinical Trials, Says Matt Hancock

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<strong>Health Secretary Matt Hancock answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus </strong> (Photo: PA Video - PA Images via Getty Images)
Health Secretary Matt Hancock answering questions from the media via a video link during a media briefing in Downing Street on coronavirus  (Photo: PA Video - PA Images via Getty Images)

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Health secretary Matt Hancock has called for coronavirus patients to volunteer for clinical trials as scientists figure out how to battle the disease.

The cabinet minister said the UK had established three new Covid-19 trials and scientists were “intensively researching drugs and treatments” for the virus.

The trio of projects cover the three different treatment stages of the disease: primary care, hospital care and critical care.

Hancock said 1,000 patients from 132 different hospitals have been recruited for one trial called ‘Recovery’ (short for: randomised evaluation of Covid-19 therapy), with thousands more expected to join in the coming weeks.

People should volunteer “where that’s possible” at their local hospital and “where that’s clinically advised”, Hancock said before, ahead of an expected weekend of warm weather, he gave Brits an “instruction” to stay at home.

“We need more patients to be part of these trials because the bigger the trials, the bigger the data and the faster we can roll out the treatments – if, and only if, it’s proven to work,” he said.

“These treatments will help us as the science develops but for now the only way to protect yourself and your family from this disease is to stay at home.”

At the Downing Street briefing on Friday, Hancock said “coronavirus continues its grim march”, with the latest Department for Health and Social Care figures showing a further 684 people had lost their lives to the disease with the UK death toll now 3,605.

Among those who died were two healthcare assistants and two NHS nurses, Areema Nasreen, 36, and Aimee O’Rourke, 39, who was also a mum-of-three.

Saying “research about treatments is absolutely central to our plan,” the health secretary added: “We are bringing together some of the finest research minds in the country to design new trials and we’re delivering them at record pace.”

But deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam said it will be a few months before results are achieved through clinical trials.

He said: “I know that there will be a question about when are we going to get some results from these clinical trials.

“And my straight answer to you is I don’t know. I think it’s going to be a few months but it will all depend on how quickly patients are recruited into the trials across the NHS.

“The faster we go in getting bigger numbers in the trials, the clearer and more emphatic and more granular signals we will get about what works and who it works for.”

Doctors would approach suitable coronavirus patients about taking part in clinical trials in the UK, Van Tam added.

“This is about patients who are undergoing treatment at some stage for Covid-19,” he told the No.10 press conference:

“First of all, we need the physicians in charge of their care to sign up for the clinical trial.

“Then it is up to the physician to approach the patient and ask them if they would like to take part.

“It is a process of very careful written informed consent for that to happen.

“The straight answer is: yes, we do need people to take part in the clinical trials and they are doing.”

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