Over 500 Cumbrian Hospital Patients Take Part In COVID-19 Treatment Effectiveness Research Trial

Over 500 people treated in hospitals at North Cumbria Integrated Care Trust (NCIC) have taken part in a research trial to assess the effectiveness of treatments for COVID-19.

The Trust is one of the top recruiters nationally to the Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 therapy (RECOVERY trial) which is coordinated by the University of Oxford.

Since its launch in March 2020, the trial has delivered evidence on the efficacy of six treatments including the first major breakthrough in the COVID-19 response – the finding that dexamethasone saves the lives of severely ill patients.

RECOVERY has recently shown that tocilizumab – an anti-inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis treatment – reduces the risk of death for hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19.  Researchers also found that the drug reduces the length of hospital admission, and the risk of patients requiring mechanical ventilation.

The collaborative approach between the clinical teams on the wards and the research teams working with them meant they were able to recruit as many patients as possible to take part in the trial.

The Clinical Research Team consistently hit a recruitment rate for studies such as this one, of up to 28 percent, well above the national target of 10 percent, which means our Trust and our patients are helping to contribute to life-saving research on a regular basis.

Dr Clive Graham, Consultant Medical Microbiologist at NCIC said: “Recruitment to the RECOVERY Trial is a huge achievement for the Trust and an example of the great team work by everyone involved in the recruiting of and facilitating of the trial.

“This kind of work is imperative in our ongoing fight against COVID-19, and we should be extremely proud we were able to offer so much support to this trial.”

RECOVERY is now the second NIHR-supported study to demonstrate the effectiveness of tocilizumab as a treatment for COVID-19 patients, after results from the REMAP-CAP study last month showed that tocilizumab and a second similar drug called sarilumab have a significant impact on survival and can reduce the relative risk of death for critically ill patients in intensive care.

The latest results from RECOVERY show that a much wider cohort of COVID-19 patients can potentially benefit from tocilizumab – beyond those critically ill on mechanical ventilation. 

As part of the trial, 2022 patients recruited from across the UK were randomly allocated to receive tocilizumab by intravenous injection.

Results were compared with 2094 patients randomly allocated to usual care alone.

82 percent of randomised patients were also taking a systemic steroid such as dexamethasone.

The study showed that for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab, one additional life would be saved.

Benefits were seen in all subgroups, including patients requiring oxygen via a simple face mask, in addition to patients in intensive care requiring mechanical ventilators.

For patients who were not on invasive mechanical ventilation when entered into the trial, tocilizumab also significantly reduced the chance of progressing to invasive mechanical ventilation or death from 38% to 33 percent.

Overall, the data indicated that in COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen and who had significant inflammation, treatment with the combination of dexamethasone plus tocilizumab reduces mortality by about one third for patients requiring simple oxygen and nearly one half for those requiring invasive mechanical ventilation.

The study is jointly funded by the NIHR with UKRI. Delivery of the study is supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network and the devolved administrations, working alongside the NHS, who together have helped recruit over 38,000 participants at 177 hospital sites across the country.

Professor Caroline Wroe, Clinical Director for NIHR Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria said: “The North East and North Cumbria has contributed so much to this pivotal trial.

“We are very proud of the achievements of the teams across the region and want to thank all the staff for their exceptional work and dedication. We also want to thank every participant who took part in the study and contributed to the success.”

For further information about the RECOVERY trial, visit https://www.recoverytrial.net/