Solidarity Clinical Trial for COVID-19 opens in Ireland

HRB-CRCI, in its role of central coordination for clinical trials, supports WHO Solidarity Clinical Trial for COVID-19 in Ireland

Solidarity in finding new pathways and Treatments 

Everything we do in the months ahead will be based on collectively seeking and acting on evidence.  Right now just a handful of drugs seem to have effects in lab-based settings on coronavirus but it’s unknown if they work in humans.  All 6 universities and 10 hospital sites in Ireland along with the Department of Health are collaborating under the leadership of Professor Joe Eustace from UCC to take part in the WHO SOLIDARITY Trial, to test these critical drugs in hospitalised patients and ICU settings and adapt care flexibly and rapidly based on developing evidence.

This has led to unique and unprecedented collaborations in Ireland, between nations and between the public and private sectors in a global effort to control the pandemic. With landmark speed the Cork Research Ethics Committee and the Health Products Regulatory Authority are fast tracking approval for the trial. The Health Research Board will manage the trial funding in Ireland with University College Cork and Health Research Board Clinical Research Coordination Ireland(HRB-CRCI) as the cornerstones for its implementation. The study team, with a special  HSE critical drugs group have been working around the clock to source the study medicines and transport them to sites so they can be made available for Irish patients in the controlled environment of a clinical trial. HRB-CRCI strongly believe this is the best way to safely find the right treatment, dose and combination of medicines for patients.

The Solidarity design will currently test the experimental drug, remdesivir, and interferon-beta which is used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis along with the current standard of care for the treatment of Covid 19 at Irish hospital sites. Other drugs can be added to this trial based on emerging evidence. To date, 21 countries have opened the trial with the first patient recruited in Norway on 27th March 2020.

According to Dr Fionnuala Keane, Chief of Operations of HRB-CRCI: “It’s only when you have a crisis that the value of investment in national clinical research infrastructure is realised. If we hadn’t built a secure foundation for this work by developing clinical research facilities integrated within our major teaching hospitals over the last decade, we wouldn’t be able to rapidly engage with opportunities to access drugs with the potential to treat this lethal virus that has come out of nowhere”. In addition Dr Keane noted the importance of linking with European institutions such as ECRIN in facilitating early intelligence and emerging evidence about such trials.

Professor Joe Eustace, Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility at University College Cork added that “The WHO Solidarity Trial will allow Irish patients who are hospitalized with Covid-19 to take part in and benefit from this global trial. It will provide the evidence that we need to guide therapy and to help improve patients’ outcomes”.

HRB-CRCI also intend to support other such trials over the coming months for COVID-19 research.

For further details on the work of HRB-CRCI please visit our website.

Further information on the link with other European institutions can be found at the ECRIN website.