Patient Resources for COVID-19

This period of time raises lots of questions for clinical trial participants. There will be some temporary changes to our studies, and those happening throughout the rest of the world.

The situation regarding COVID-19 is changing on a daily basis. We’ll be updating this page regularly with information on our studies, as well as the latest in vaccine and therapeutic research and helpful resources about medical conditions and COVID-19 .

Many aspects of the patient experience have changed due to the virus. The Patients Association is looking for people to give feedback on the impacts of coronavirus on care – Please follow this link to be taken to the survey which you can also complete on behalf of someone else.

This Reuters report contains a summary of the latest developments with further reading. If you would like to stay on top of the facts, iHealth Facts and the Myth busters section of the WHO website are good places to start.

What are the facts?

There is a lot of misinformation spreading about COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a zoonotic illness caused by one of many hundreds of coronaviruses. Other notable coronaviruses are MERS 2012 and SARS 2003. A zoonotic virus causes disease in animals, but has made the jump to humans. When humans encroach on territory held by wild animals, the risk of humans coming into contact with novel zoonotic diseases is heightened. The close proximity of live animals and animal slaughter practices increase this risk, and this was the case in the wet market in Wuhan where the outbreak has been traced back to. Although there is still not sufficient evidence to indicate exactly how this specific coronavirus was transferred to human beings, there have been some attempts to understand exactly what happened, which you can read here.

The animal origin of COVID-19 has not yet been identified, but bats are a possible source. Bats are hosts to many types of zoonotic viruses, including Ebola, HIV and rabies. Zoonotic diseases usually stay locked away in nature, but are often unearthed because of human behaviour. This is why there have been calls to ban wildlife markets in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Research suggests that COVID-19 could be a chimera between two types of pre-existing viruses, but we still cannot say from which animal species.

As with any issue of global concern, alternative theories circulate. Read some of the most common debunked conspiracies on COVID-19 here.

In 80% of people, COVID-19 is a mild illness and causes symptoms similar to cold and flu. Recently, the loss of smell and taste have emerged as common COVID-19 symptoms. The virus spreads through droplets when a person coughs, sneezes or exhales. There are currently no curative treatments for COVID-19, and the management of very unwell individuals is supportive.

Has my trial been affected?

There may be some temporary changes to your study.

Sadly, clinical trials across the world are being postponed, delayed or closed early. This is to ensure the health and safety of all clinical trial participants whilst COVID-19 is an active problem. The most important part of clinical research is the safety of everyone taking part and the pharmaceutical world is working hard to ensure that trial participants are being appropriately supported through this period. We will be in touch with you if there have been any changes to the study you are on.

Those that have underlying health conditions are considered in a vulnerable category, and in the current circumstances we are not inviting anyone to come to our clinic and get involved in clinical research for now. This is a temporary adjournment and we will be ready to hit the ground running as soon as it is 100% safe to do so in line with Government guidelines.

The patient journey article image

What is the latest with the COVID-19 vaccine effort?

The race is on to prevent people becoming sick, and to successfully treat those who do.

There is the possibility a vaccine may be ready within 12-18 months. In terms of the global situation, this sounds like a very long time, but usually vaccines can take up to 15 years to develop.

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation have assigned billions of dollars to assist vaccine efforts, with the knowledge that many of these billions will be wasted in order to identify the two strongest contenders out of 7. With this type of financial backing, vaccines can be developed quicker. Another way to fast track this process is through novel approaches such as RNA therapueutics, which is the basis of Moderna’s vaccine trials.

Many other companies are in the race to develop a coronavirus vaccine. You can read about these here. For more information on the RNA approach follow this link, and to read about what the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are doing, click here.

Can we treat COVID-19?

There are no treatments approved to treat COVID-19 yet.

As it stands, there are no proven treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. However, there are a lot of clinical trials taking place around the world that are testing new medicines or repurposing existing ones to treat the virus.

The most hopeful of these treatments so far is remdesivir, the antiviral medication developed by Gilead Sciences in response to the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Data released from clinical trials testing the experimental medicine have shown remdesivir to shorten the length of recovery time for seriously ill patients by four days in a study that pitted the drug against a placebo.

The results from this study were so promising, those on the placebo were quickly switched to remdesivir.

Remdesivir is not the cure for all patients however, and is also in short supply.

Concerns and queries about the impact of COVID-19 on clinical trials

What are the most reputable sources for information on COVID-19?

There is an abundance of information on the outbreak, and where/how you choose to access this information is up to you. There are however some sources more reputable than others, and we have listed these below. You should always think carefully about what you are reading, and cross examine things that seem far fetched or unreliable. Be wary of scams and “cures” – there is no cure for the illness caused by COVID-19 currently, but researchers are working hard on treatments and vaccines.

  1. World Health Organisation 
  2. Gov.UK
  3. Center for Disease Control 

What are some of the most common ways my study could be affected by COVID-19?

There are several ways your study might change.

  1. You may be shifted to at-home care, or receive your updates via phone call instead of at the clinic
  2. Your study visits may be reduced
  3. If you are in the early stages of enrolment, this may be paused until it is safe to resume in line with government guidelines
  4. You may be required to attend an off-premise lab for testing and collection of results

What type of questions should I ask my study coordinator?

The safety of our patients is our top priority, and we’re expecting you to have questions about your care going forward.

  1. If my study visits are reduced, will this affect my care?
    • Our priority is to ensure your safety at all times. You will always have access to our 24 hour emergency call line for out of hours concerns plus you can get in touch with our study doctors during the working day with any queries you have about your health and care in relation to the study.
  2. What will happen to my study medication?
    • The impact of the situation is different for each study. Your Study Coordinator will be able to take you through what happens with your study medication in detail. For some studies it may involve having the study medication shipped directly to your home or for other studies you may have to temporarily slow down or stop your study medication for this period.
  3. Will my study doctors still be available?
    • Yes, our study doctors are still working with us at St Pancras Clinical Research and will be contactable as usual.
  4. I was supposed to screen for a study, what will happen now?
    • For most studies right now, screening activity is at bare minimum to avoid any unnecessary risks. We will be in touch with you about your screening visit status and we will keep you updated as the situation develops to keep you in the loop! We hope to be inviting people in for screening visits in the near future.

You can contact us via your Study Coordinator or alternatively at patientcare@stpancrasclinical.com with any concerns you may have.

What can I take away from the above?

The most difficult part of what is happening right now is the uncertainty the situation brings to every one of us. As humans, we want answers, timeframes, a date by which we can start planning to resume our lives. The absence of this is distressing, but know that it will eventually come. As always, there are reasons to be hopeful and the efforts being made to speed up the processes which will give us vaccines and an effective therapeutic treatment are unprecedented. See below for helpful articles on navigating this crisis if you live with chronic pain, diabetes or dementia.

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Our statement on COVID-19.

Click here to read.