New Covid treatments to be fast-tracked through trials - meaning patients could be treated in months

By Helen Johnson
Monday, 15th February 2021, 2:27 pm
Updated Monday, 15th February 2021, 2:28 pm
Groundbreaking Covid treatments are soon to be fast-tracked through the UK’s clinical trial system (Photo: Shutterstock)

Groundbreaking Covid treatments are soon to be fast-tracked through the UK’s clinical trial system.

The Government has announced that multi-million-pound funding will be given to phase 1 clinical trials in order to fast-track certain treatments, which could see NHS patients receive innovative coronavirus treatments in a matter of months, instead of years.

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What are phase 1 clinical trials?

The Government currently funds phase 2 and 3 trials, such as the Recovery trial, which brought the dexamethasone and tocilizumab treatments for Covid-19 to the NHS.

However, phase 1 trials are usually arranged by the researchers and “are the earliest stage of human trials that ensure treatments are safe and show a signal of benefit in treating a disease,” according to the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Once trials pass phase 1, they then go into larger-scale phase 2 and 3 trials, before being made available on the NHS after they have proven to be effective.

The new funding - which has been awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and co-funded through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - will allow for global innovators to progress groundbreaking Covid treatments through all 3 clinical trial phases in the UK.

Mr Hancock said the funding “will ensure all phases of clinical trials for new treatments are done in the UK, protecting our supply chain and securing the world’s best treatments for NHS patients at a much faster rate.

“I am immensely proud of the work that’s been undertaken by the brilliant scientists behind these treatments and the thousands of UK patients who have taken part in the trials,” he added.

“Together, we can continue to ensure the UK is one of the best countries in the world for trialling and deploying the most groundbreaking medical advancements for both COVID-19 and for dangerous diseases in the future”.