If you were asked to think about research into treatments for Covid-19, your mind would probably conjure images of immense labs filled with hazmat suit-clad scientists working away at a major university. In a way, you’d be right, as the world’s biggest clinical study into the treatment of Covid-19 was indeed launched by Professors Peter Horby and Martin Landray of Oxford University. But much of the actual research happened in hospitals across the country, led by their own research teams.
Our local trust, Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT), played an important role in the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) Trial, contributing to findings that have vastly changed the treatment of Covid-19 over the course of the last 15 months. Under the CHFT Research Team’s care, the trust has so far recruited almost 500 patients to the trial. The team operates under the leadership of Asifa Ali (Research and Development Lead), Dr Purav Desai (Principal Investigator for the RECOVERY Trial) and Tracy Wood (Clinical Research Nurse Manager).
Just three months after the RECOVERY Trial was established, results had already proven that dexamethasone – a cheap and readily available steroid – had a significant impact on the mortality rate of hospitalised Covid-19 patients. As time went on, other treatments were found to be beneficial. Speaking in May, in honour of International Clinical Trials Day (May 20th 2021), Tracy Wood said: “The RECOVERY Trial demonstrated a major benefit of dexamethasone and tocilizumab, which has impacted patient care throughout the world. To see these ground-breaking results makes me so proud to be a Research Nurse.
“I have never been more proud to lead research at CHFT. I am incredibly proud of everyone for embracing clinical research despite the difficulties we have all faced. Together we have found innovative ways to deliver clinical research and can demonstrate research excellence.”
The RECOVERY Trial continues, both trying out and ruling out different treatments, and announced another landmark finding on June 16th.
Monoclonal antibody treatment, made by Regeneron, is the combination of two lab-made antibodies that bind to the virus and stop it from replicating and infecting more cells in the body. This treatment was given to nearly 10000 RECOVERY Trial patients and was shown to significantly reduce the risk of death, the need to be put on mechanical ventilation, and the length of hospital stay.
One patient who received the monoclonal antibodies was Huddersfield resident Kimberley Featherstone, who was treated at Calderdale Royal Hospital in November for Covid-19 pneumonia. She said “When I was approached by one of the research team to ask if I’d take part in the trial, I jumped at the chance. I know that uptake rates are generally low for trials, and also that this sort of research is the only way that new treatments can be found. Having felt a bit useless throughout the pandemic, it seemed like the least I could do to help out!”
Dr Desai spoke of the work being done as part of a global effort to fight Covid-19, saying “Our patients and colleagues have contributed to a significant development in clinical research and we now have a new treatment for the sickest patients. The global pandemic continues, and this development will play a vital role in saving lives across the world.”
CHFT Research Team won the 2020 Nursing Times Award for Clinical Research Nursing, due to their efforts in engaging staff in clinical research to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, which goes to show what a dedicated team we have at our local hospitals!
Want to support our local NHS staff? Get hold of your copy of ‘The Story of Emley Mast and Skinny Mast’, a short illustrated story with all proceeds going to Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Charity!