Oxford clinical trial for COVID-19 treatments expands internationally

The international trial will initially focus on the treatments aspirin and colchicine, since these are readily available and affordable

The Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial for COVID-19 treatments, has expanded internationally with Indonesia and Nepal among the first countries to join. The first patients have been recruited to RECOVERY International.

The RECOVERY trial was launched in the UK in March 2020 to investigate whether any existing treatments were effective against COVID-19. It’s open to all patients admitted to NHS hospitals with COVID-19, with over 36,000 patients recruited so far. The trial has found that the steroid, dexamethasone, and the anti-inflammatory treatment, tocilizumab, significantly reduce the risk of death when given to hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19.

In Indonesia and Nepal, the trial will initially focus on the treatments aspirin and colchicine, since these are readily available and affordable but, like RECOVERY in the UK, the trial is adaptive and drugs will be added over time.

The expansion has been made possible by the work of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU), which has campuses in Kathmandu in Nepal and Jakarta in Indonesia. OUCRU Nepal exists in partnership with Patan Academy of Health Sciences and Patan Hospital in Kathmandu and the trial is being delivered in collaboration with the Nepal Health Research Council. In Indonesia, the RECOVERY trial is being delivered by the research partnership between the University of Oxford and Faculty of Medicine University of Indonesia (FKUI), and several hospitals.

Dr Erni Nelwan, who will lead the trial in Indonesia on behalf of FKUI, said: “We are really excited that our investigators will have the experience of being part of a high-profile, global trial. In return, we can provide a more diverse patient population, including those more severely affected by the disease.”

“RECOVERY has already helped Indonesia to plan its resources more effectively. For instance, because of the trial’s results, chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine is no longer recommended in Indonesia to treat COVID-19, with dexamethasone now widely used instead,” said Professor Raph Hamers, who will co-lead the trial in Indonesia on behalf of Oxford University.

“The Nepal team is super-excited to be aligned with Oxford University's RECOVERY, the largest COVID-19 drug trial in the world so that these ground-breaking findings also become relevant in the context of low- and middle-income countries,” added Professor Buddha Basnyat, Director of OUCRU Nepal.

The Co-lead from Nepal, Dr Pradip Gyanwali, member secretary of the Nepal Health Research Council said Recovery International has excellent potential for being very useful for Nepal.

Funding for RECOVERY International was provided by Wellcome, in collaboration with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), on behalf of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, initially for a two-year period.

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